The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on Friday launched a campaign against homophobia and transphobia.

Navi Pillay, the UN high commissioner for human rights, unveiled the Free & Equal campaign at a press conference in Cape Town, South Africa.

“The Universal Declaration of Human Rights promises a world in which everyone is born free and equal in dignity and rights – no exceptions, no-one left behind,” Pillay said. “Yet it's still a hollow promise for many millions of LGBT people forced to confront hatred, intolerance, violence and discrimination on a daily basis.”

“Changing attitudes is never easy. But it has happened on other issues and it is happening already in many parts of the world on this one. It begins with often difficult conversations. And that is what we want to do with this campaign. Free & Equal will inspire millions of conversations among people around the world and across the ideological spectrum,” she added.

Retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu added: “I would not worship a God who is homophobic and that is how deeply I feel about this.”

The awareness campaign follows the publication of an OHCHR report in 2011 on violence and discrimination faced by LGBT persons.

OHCHR in May released a video for the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. A second video released last month tells the story of Edith Modesto, a Brazilian mother who started a support group for parents with gay children. (The video is embedded on this page. Visit our video library for more videos.)

Celebrities expected to participate in the campaign include Ricky Martin, Yvvonne Chaka Chaka, Celina Jaitly and Daniela Mercury.

On the Net: Free & Equal campaign.