This week in LGBTQ history: UN issues Free & Equal stamps

In February of this year, the United Nations Postal Administration (UNPA) issued a set of six stamps promoting the UN Free & Equal campaign for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality. The new stamps, which celebrate the diversity of the LGBT community, mark the first time that the UNPA has issued stamps with an LGBT theme.

Swedish statesman Dag Hammarskjöld served as secretary-general of the United Nations for eight years, from 1953 until his death in a controversial plane crash on September 18, 1961. He never married and was known to be a closeted homosexual whose effectiveness would have been severely compromised had his sexual orientation become public.

An initiative of the UN Human Rights Office, Free & Equal is a global public education campaign dedicated to raising awareness of homophobic and transphobic violence and discrimination globally. Since its launch, the campaign has generated a stream of popular content and engaged millions of people in an effort to promote the fair treatment of LGBT people and generate support for measures to protect their rights.

Equality is a fundamental principle of human rights. All human beings – whoever they are, wherever they live, whomever they love – are entitled to enjoy the same basic rights, free from arbitrary interference. In the eyes of the UN, all nations, regardless of their political, economic and cultural systems, have a legal duty to promote and protect the human rights of all. “LGBT people, like everyone else in the world, are entitled to live their lives free from fear, violence, discrimination and persecution,” says the UN Human Rights Office, which is certainly well aware that gay sex is illegal in 73 countries, according to the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Assn. In 13, the punishment for homosexual activity is death.

The stamps were issued on February 5, 2016, and were created by artist Sergio Baradat. The denominations conform to countries where the UNPA has offices – in New York, Geneva and Vienna – and where people can use UN stamps for mailing purposes: US$ 0.49 (We are everywhere) and $1.20 (Transgender); 1,00 (Lesbians) and 1,50 (Gay families) in Swiss francs; and € 0,68 (Coming out) and € 0,80 (Gays).

UN Free & Equal recently celebrated two years of campaigning, in which the campaign’s message of acceptance and equality reached some two billion people. To learn more about the Free & Equal campaign, visit


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