Press release

Zero Discrimination Day to be celebrated 1 March 2014

GENEVA, 27 February 2014—UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé launched the Zero Discrimination Day on 27 February with a major event in Beijing, China supported by the China Red Ribbon Foundation, Hanergy Holding Group, Chinese government, civil society and celebrities. Similar events are planned for the days leading up to 1 March 2014 in countries around the world. Zero Discrimination Day is a call to people everywhere to promote and celebrate everyone’s right to live a full life with dignity—no matter what they look like, where they come from or whom they love. The symbol for Zero Discrimination is the butterfly, widely recognized as a sign of transformation.

At the Zero Discrimination Day event in Beijing, Li Hejun, Chairman and CEO of Hanergy Holding Group; Gu Yanfen, General Secretary of the China Red Ribbon Foundation; and Mr Sidibé delivered opening remarks. James Chau, news anchor for the China Central Television and UNAIDS National Goodwill Ambassador, moderated a panel discussion on discrimination. The event ended with more than 30 business leaders signing a pledge to eliminate discrimination in the workplace.

“The AIDS response itself has taught the world tremendous lessons in tolerance and compassion,” Mr Sidibé said. “We know that both the right to health and the right to dignity belong to everyone. Working together, we can transform ourselves, our communities and our world to reach zero discrimination.”    

Working with Nobel Peace Prize winner and UNAIDS Global Advocate for Zero Discrimination Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, UNAIDS launched the #zerodiscrimination campaign in December 2013 on World AIDS Day.

“People who discriminate narrow the world of others as well as their own,” said Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. “I believe in a world where everyone can flower and blossom.”

Many international celebrities have joined the call for zero discrimination, recording video messages and taking photographs with the butterfly sign. The personalities include UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador Annie Lennox, international football star David Luiz, actress and activist Michelle Yeoh and HSH Princess Stephanie of Monaco.

“Hanergy recognizes the right of all employees to live a life of dignity, free from discrimination,” said Mr Li. “With the support of UNAIDS, Hanergy has worked to expand staff training on HIV and discrimination for all employees, and has integrated anti-discrimination content into company recruitment policies.”

The private sector is also playing an important part in commemorating Zero Discrimination Day in South Africa, where as part of a longstanding partnership with UNAIDS, the Standard Bank is conducting a social media drive around the day. The almost 3.5 million subscribers of Airtel, the largest mobile telephone service provider in Malawi will receive a message promoting zero discrimination on 1 March. In Myanmar, two major football teams in collaboration with the Myanmar National Football League and Federation will make a pledge supporting zero discrimination during a match at the national football stadium in Yangon. In Minsk, Belarus, an interactive dialogue on promoting zero discrimination in the region will take place with young people; participants will include pop singer Teo. A similar event organized by people living with HIV as well as lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people will take place in a central park in the city of San Pedro Sula, Honduras.

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