This blog post was published under the 2015 to 2024 Conservative government

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Leigh Turner

Ambassador to Austria and UK Permanent Representative to the United Nations and other International Organisations in Vienna

Part of UK in Austria

6th July 2018 Vienna, Austria

#Diplomatsforequality – LGBTI rights are human rights

A vast parade of colourful floats and marchers streams around the Ringstrasse in Vienna.  More than 200,000 people watch and participate.

Towards the front of the spectacle, 200 people – including 15 ambassadors – wave flags, dance and sing, marching behind a banner reading #diplomatsforequality.

Welcome to #ViennaPride 2018.

The three British Vienna diplomatic missions (the UK Mission to the UN and International Organisations, the UK Delegation to the OSCE and the bilateral embassy) played an active part in helping to organise the #diplomatsforequality float at this year’s Vienna Pride event.  We began, working with several partners, by marking the International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT) on 17 May with a public statement.

We held a side event at the Vienna Pride village focused on how business, politicians, governments, NGOs and civil society can work together to promote LGBTI issues and how individuals have overcome discrimination to play an active part in public and political life.  Finally, around 35 countries and international organisations marched under the banner #diplomatsforequality at the mighty #ViennaPride march on 16 June.

Our main message was that LGBTI rights are human rights and that nobody should be discriminated against for who they are, or whom they love.

It was a privilege to be part of such a big event.  The mood was celebratory: many spectators were delighted when they saw their flag flying behind the #diplomatsforequality banner, and we were honoured to be joined by leading activist and former top British diplomat Sir Stephen Wall.  Our Union Jack rainbow flags went down a storm with young and old.

The media response was strong, including in the newspapers and on social media (check out twitter’s @dipforequality and Instagram’s @diplomatsforequality).   We were delighted that diplomatic engagement in support of LGBTI issues could produce such an impact, based mainly on enthusiasm, engagement, a great sound system and loads of flags.

Next step: EuroPride in Vienna in 2019.  We are already looking forward to it.

About Leigh Turner

I hope you find this blog interesting and, where appropriate, entertaining. My role in Vienna covers the relationship between Austria and the UK as well as the diverse work of…

I hope you find this blog interesting and, where appropriate, entertaining. My role in Vienna covers the relationship between Austria and the UK as well as the diverse work of the UN and other organisations; stories here will reflect that.

About me: I arrived in Vienna in August 2016 for my second posting in this wonderful city, having first served here in the mid-1980s. My previous job was as HM Consul-General and Director-General for Trade and Investment for Turkey, Central Asia and South Caucasus based in Istanbul.

Further back: I grew up in Nigeria, Exeter, Lesotho, Swaziland and Manchester before attending Cambridge University 1976-79. I worked in several government departments before joining the Foreign Office in 1983.

Keen to go to Africa and South America, I’ve had postings in Vienna (twice), Moscow, Bonn, Berlin, Kyiv and Istanbul, plus jobs in London ranging from the EU Budget to the British Overseas Territories.

2002-6 I was lucky enough to spend four years in Berlin running the house, looking after the children (born 1992 and 1994) and doing some writing and journalism.

To return to Vienna as ambassador is a privilege and a pleasure. I hope this blog reflects that.