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17 countries join declaration against discrimination in Malta forum

Government representatives from 17 countries have signed a declaration against discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, closing a two-day forum held in Malta.

According to the Declaration of Intent, the signatories pledged the adoption of legislative measures to fight discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, prosecute hate-motivated crimes and consult NGOs defending LGBTI rights.

The countries that signed the declaration included Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Montenegro, The Netherlands and Slovenia.

Idaho 2014 is a forum that brings together governments and civil society. This was only the second such event. The two-day forum was organised by the Maltese and Swedish governments. Next year it will be held in Montenegro.

“Look at people for what they can achieve and not how they are born, because no one chooses how they are born,” Civil Liberties Helena Dalli said, closing the Idaho 2014 forum on LGBT rights.

“Our societies need to work hard to look at people as people, and not as man, woman, gay, black, white or transgender... These are all labels. We are all people - we all deserve to have a right to live a dignified life and to reach our potential. Life is fragile enough as it is without having to categorise people. Let's not complicate it. Let's live and let live.”

Ms Dalli said that through tools like the Declaration of Intent “we can change society and eventually achieve a dignified, happy and healthy life for all.”

Swedish Integration Minister Erik Ullenhag expressed solidarity with the Ukrainian and Russian delegates: “Most days you might be scared, and feel lonely, but this declaration is a strong statement that you are not alone - we are observing your fight and support it”.

He noted that although the declaration was only a piece of paper it was another step forward and a way for civil society to remind governments of their pledge.

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