Navi Pillay, the U.N. high commissioner for Human Rights, explained in the video below why this day is so important. She says that all over the world people of all ages are being discriminated against at home, at school, at work, or in other everyday situations because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
They ask to be treated fairly and equally and not to be singled out and discriminated against.
They're not asking for special or new rights, she says. There is nothing new or special about the right to life, security of the person, or the right to freedom of discrimination.
These rights are universal and enshrined in international law. Yet they are denied to millions of people simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. In more than 76 countries, being in a same-sex relationship is a criminal offense.
On a daily basis LGBT people are singled out for their sexual orientation or gender identity and are arrested and sometimes tortured or killed.
"We must punish hatred and violence, not love," she says in the video. "The best antidote for homophobia and transphobia is to educate adults and children."