Fight against transphobia and homophobia highlighted in Vienna

Vienna UNIS

Eurovision song contest winner Conchita Wurst got most of the headlines at a special event in Vienna on 3 November highlighting the need for for respect and tolerance for everyone, but a staff member, pictured above, also got an important shout out.

“I am proud to champion the cause of equality for all members of our human family no matter who they are or whom they love. I am resolved to lead by example, so this year I extended benefits to same sex partners of UN staff members,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said welcoming Hilda-Olivia Sarkissian, the first staff member in Vienna to receive full marital recognition for her family under the new policy.

Ms. Sarikssian, who works for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, was legally married in Canada in 2007 and her children were born in 2011.

“Her twin daughters deserve just as much love as all children, and I’m so glad she got her rightful leave to be with them after they were born,” he added. “I will continue to fight against transphobia and homophobia. I will stand strong for equality. I hope all of you join our global Free & Equal campaign.”

“Discrimination has no place in the United Nations, nor in the world of the 21st Century,” United Nations  Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the event  showing his support for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex community.

Conchita sang her winning 2014 Eurovision song “Rise like a Phoenix” and also “Believe” in front of a packed audience at the Vienna International Centre.

You can watch the whole event here:

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illUmiNations: Protecting our Planet

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To kick off this week’s United Nations Climate Summit, hundreds gathered outside United Nations Headquarters to watch a special event on Saturday evening, 20 September, called illUmiNations: Protecting our Planet. The facades of the United Nations General Assemblyand Secretariat buildings were lit up with spectacular projections streaming images depicting the impact of climate change along with solutions.


With the goal of inspiring global citizens to call on their leaders to take climate action, the projections were organized by the United Nations Department of Public information in partnership with Oceanic Preservation Society and Obscura Digital.


The projections included portraits of animals that are on the verge of extinction, as well as imagery depicting the impact of global warming on oceans and lands of planet earth. “There’s no bigger billboard on the planet,” said Academy Award-winning producer Fisher Stevens, producer of the projections.


United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, “These exceptional projections being shown at the United Nations will help draw attention to the need to make climate action a reality in every community and every society. Now is the time to take decisive action.”

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