navi pillay

Former United Nations High Commissioner reflects on 50 years of fighting for equal human rights

Born into poverty in South Africa to Tamil parents, Navi Pillay was the first South African to earn a doctorate in law from Harvard Law School. Her experiences growing up under apartheid led her to become a human rights activist. She was the first non-white woman judge of the High Court of South Africa, and she has also served as a judge of the International Criminal Court and President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda

navi pillay

South Africa’s first non-white female judge, after becoming the first South African woman of colour to open her own law office, Pillay has been the world’s most powerful and effective champion of human rights for the past six years. She says she had no other alternative: “No law firm would employ me because they said they could not have white employees taking instructions from a coloured person” 

Facing discrimination based on color, she understands what it feels like to be denied basic human rights. She recalls how teachers, in her times, used to force left handed kids to write with their ‘right-hands’. Homophobia, for her is a mark of regression.  

LGBT has become heart of the global human right lexicon. Every human being has the right to live equally and should not have to pay for their choices in sexual partners.  

In her video for the UN campaign, she talks about how routinely directed hatred and violence directed towards the LGBTQ community is regressive and will only increase poverty and disparity in the society.  

ILGA, the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, awarded ex- UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem (Navi) Pillay “LGBTI Friend of the Year 2014. Her work in the field of LGBTQ community gained popularity with the UN Free & Equal campaign.  

In her powerful video campaign, she has brought forward unspoken topics and issues. She talks about “Corrective rape” committed by men who rape lesbians and then justify their actions by claiming that they’re only trying to correct the victim’s sexuality.  

Video link –  

She also reminds of the stark statistics like-  

Last year, 250 people were murdered in Brussels because of homophobia.  

Homosexuality and Transgenderism is anything but new. Archaeologists have found remaining that date back up to 4000 years.  

She reiterates, “No one is entitled to treat any human being lesser than others, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity.”  

She even talks about how transgender are a minority in the already prejudiced and ignored community.  

Check the video here-  

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