Hi, my name is Judith Heumann and I am the Special Advisor for International Disability Rights at the U.S. Department of State. Hate is hate, no matter who the target is, or whether it is based on age, gender, culture, race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, nationality, disability, or any other basis. Hate damages lives and communities, leaves people marginalized and excluded, and deprives us all of the best that people have to offer to our societies.
For the one billion disabled people around the world, hatred is an all too common experience. It can take many forms, including verbal or physical abuse, being denied a job or education because of disability, being shut out of public spaces because of physical or communication barriers, and being shunned or ignored by those who are simply afraid of people who do not look, sound, move, think, or act like them.
That is why I am pleased to be able to join in the 2012 Hours Against Hate campaign. Any time that you can spend in reaching out to people who do not look like you, live like you, love like you or pray like you, will help to build societies where we are all valued and respected for who we are.
I am also pleased that 2012 Hours Against Hate is an official part of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. These Games demonstrate how sport is a powerful tool to connect people and communities, and foster understanding. So whether you’re a player or a fan, like me, consider using sport to reach out to a different church, mosque or synagogue, LGBT group, Center for Independent Living (CIL) or other groups. Invite disabled athletes to have a discussion about the role sports has played in their lives. Learning about each other’s differences help people realize about how much we all have in common, building opportunities to end hate and create stronger communities. I look forward to learning about what you are doing. Thank you.