World Zero Discrimination Day

 Zero Discrimination Day is an annual day celebrated by the United Nations (UN) and other international organizations. The day aims to promote equality before the law and in practice throughout all of the member countries of the UN. The day was first celebrated on March 1, 2014, and was launched by UNAIDS Executive Director Michel SidibĂ© on 27 February of that year with a major event in Beijing.

The day is particularly noted by organisations like UNAIDS that combat discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS. "HIV related stigma and discrimination is pervasive and exists in almost every part of the world including our Liberia", according to Dr. Ivan F. Camanor, Chairman of the National AIDS Commission of Liberia. The UN Development Programme also paid tribute in 2017 to LGBTI people with HIV/AIDS who face discrimination.

Campaigners in India have used this day to speak out against laws making discrimination against the LGBTI community more likely, especially during the previous campaign to repeal the law that used to criminalise homosexuality, before that law was overturned by the Indian Supreme Court in September 2018.

On zero discrimination day this year, UNAIDS is highlighting the need to bring an end to income, sex, age, occupation, disability, sexuality, gender, race, class, ethnicity and religious inequality. Inequality is growing for more than 70% of the global population, exacerbating the risk of division and hampering socioeconomic development.

As a consequence, COVID-19 is hitting vulnerable people the hardest - poor and socially marginalised communities throughout the world will be the last to receive vaccines for the coronavirus. Many have equated this to vaccine apartheid.

Discrimination and inequalities are closely intertwined. Intersecting forms of discrimination, be it structural or social, against individuals and groups can lead to a wide range of inequalities—for example, in income, educational outcomes, health and employment. However, inequalities themselves can also lead to stigma and discrimination. It is critical, therefore, when looking to reduce inequalities to address discrimination. Members of key populations are often discriminated against, stigmatized and, in many cases, criminalized and targeted by law enforcement. Research has shown that this social and structural discrimination results in significant inequalities in access to justice and in health outcomes.

On this day, everyone should stand up for those who are at the receiving end of societal and institutional discrimination to create a better and safer world that teaches its children love before hate.

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