WATCH LIVE! Today is World Human Rights Day, and Ricky Martin will be at UN ceremony

(Editor’s note: The United Nations will mark World Human Rights Day with a star-studded event that can be viewed at 3:15 pm ET/12:15 PT via the web. Click HERE to watch the ceremonies and to see openly gay superstar Ricky Martin, legendary South African singer Yvonne Chaka Chaka and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, an outspoken defender of LGBT and human rights. At 12:55 pm will be an interactive dialogue on combatting violence and discrimination against LGBT people featuring Blas Radi, the first person in Argentina to successfully change his birth certificate and national identity papers to reflect his gender identity; Olena Shevchenko, co-founder and director of Insight in Ukraine, where she has led an international campaign to prevent the passage of Draft Law No. 8711 that would criminalize any reference to or expression of homosexuality with up to five years imprisonment; and Gift Trapence, whose work to advance human rights has resulted in a commitment from the government of Malawi to temporarily suspend the sodomy law and commence a period of public discussion to evaluate the feasibility of the law’s repeal.)

NEW YORK -- Today is World Human Rights Day.

More than 60 years ago, the United Nations declared December 10 International Human Rights Day -- partly a reaction to the horrors World War II, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1948 set out to define basic human rights and freedoms afforded to any person, regardless of race, gender or ethnicity.

Since then, nearly all UN member countries have adopted the UDHR, which has been translated into more than 380 languages. Yet LGBT people across the world continue to face discrimination, persecution, or worse -- for simply being who they are.

"International Human Rights Day is an opportunity to highlight the ongoing challenges faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in communities around the world," said GLAAD President Herndon Graddick.

"From the 'Kill the Gays' bill in Uganda, to the reportedly pending executions of twelve gay men in Libya, to the ever-present threat of violence against trans women around the globe, LGBT equality can literally be a life or death issue."

Just recently, British media reported that twelve gay men in Libya are facing execution by a militia, after they were abducted from a private party. The militia itself reportedly made this claim on its Facebook page.

And any day now, the Ugandan parliament may vote on the controversial “Kill the Gays” bill, anti-homosexuality legislation that calls for at least a life sentence in prison for gay and lesbian people, as well as imprisonment for anyone who does not “turn in” gay and lesbian people to the government. This would include parents, teachers, neighbors, doctors, clergy, and landlords.

And last month, the intentional community paused for Transgender Day of Remembrance to remember the hundreds of transgender people whose lives were lost in the past year. According to Transgender Europe, there were 265 reported anti-trans murders worldwide between 2011 and 2012.

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