Zero Discrimination Day

The UN first celebrated Zero Discrimination Day on 1st March 2014, after UNAIDS, a UN program on human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), launched its Zero Discrimination Campaign on World AIDS Day in December 2013. The day was launched by UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé on 27 February of that year with a major event in Beijing. In February 2017, UNAIDS called on people to ‘make some noise around zero discrimination, to speak up and prevent discrimination from standing in the way of achieving ambitions, goals, and dreams.’ The day is particularly noted by organizations 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 UNDP also paid tribute in 2017 to LGBTI people with HIV/AIDS who face discrimination. In 2015, Armenian Americans in California held a ‘die-in’ on Zero Discrimination Day to remember the victims of the Armenian Genocide.

Organizations like the United Nations (UN) actively promote the day with various activities to celebrate everyone’s right to live a full life with dignity regardless of age, gender, sexuality, nationality, ethnicity, skin color, height, weight, profession, education, and beliefs. Many countries have laws against discrimination but it’s still a problem in all layers of society in every country in the world. Many countries have and still use discrimination as a way of governing. Discrimination continues to undermine efforts to achieve a more just and equitable world and causes pain and suffering for many. Discrimination has many forms, from racial or religious discrimination to discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation or age, and to bullying at school or at work. The symbol for Zero Discrimination Day is the butterfly, widely used by people to share their stories and photos as a way to end discrimination and work towards positive transformation. Zero Discrimination Day is a global observance and not a public holiday so it’s business as usual.