World Stamps

By Denise McCarty

United Nations issues Free & Equal stamps for worldwide LGBT equality

February 10, 2016 01:31 PM

  • Sergio Baradat of the United Nations created the symbolic designs for the United Nations Postal Administration’s Free & Equal stamps issued Feb. 5. The set includes two stamps for each U.N. post office.

By Denise McCarty

Six new stamps from the United Nations Postal Administration promote a public education campaign to raise awareness for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender equality.

The name of the campaign “Free & Equal” is inscribed on each of the six UNPA stamps issued Feb. 5.

The inscription is in English on the two stamps for use from the post office at U.N. headquarters in New York City, 49¢ and $1.20; in French (“Libres & Egaux”) for the 1-franc and 1.50fr stamps for use from the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland; and in German on the €0.68 and €0.80 stamps for use from the Vienna International Center in Vienna, Austria.

The stamps were unveiled Feb. 4 in the General Assembly Lobby, and the United Nations includes a short video about the event on its UNIfeed news website.

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At that ceremony, Sergio Baradat, the U.N. artist who created the symbolic designs that appear on the stamps, said: “My hope and dream is that these fall into hands of people around the world who may be having a hard time with their own sexuality with their own governments, their churches, their families that tell them that they are less than or not equal to. And for this series as they see them to know that the United Nations, the good guys, the developed world is saying you are equal to, you are not less than, you deserve respect and happiness and love.”

The video about the unveiling also included a brief sound bite from Feb. 3 with Usman Sarki, deputy permanent representative of Nigeria to the United Nations, saying: “We wish to remind the UN to limit itself strictly to activities mandated by member states and especially to promote issues that are beneficial to mankind, rather than lend itself as tool to promote a deranged behaviour under a guise of promoting human rights.”

The designs for the 49¢ and $1.20 stamps represent “We Are Everywhere” and “Transgender,” according to the UNPA’s philatelic bulletin Fascination.

The bulletin also describes the 1fr and 1.50fr designs as symbolizing “Lesbian” and “Gay Families,” respectively, and the €0.68 and €0.80 stamps as showing “Coming Out” and “Gay,” respectively.

In a press release from the U.N. News Centre, Baradat described his artistic style as stemming from his youth in Miami and his appreciation for French art deco.

In addition to designing stamps for UNPA, Baradat also has designed United States stamps: the 2008 Tropical Fruit set of five (Scott 4253-57) and the Mambo stamp (Scott 3942) from the 2006 Let’s Dance set.

Cartor Security Printing in France printed the Free & Equal stamps by offset in sheets of 20.

The stamps measure 35.35 millimeters by 45mm each, and are perforated gauge 14 by 13.25.

The printing quantities are 120,000 each of the 49¢ and $1.20 denominations; 90,000 each of the 1fr and 1.50fr; and 100,000 each of the €0.68 and €0.80.

The United Nations unveiled its Free & Equal campaign in July 2013.

In announcing the campaign, Navi Pillay, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, said: “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights promises a world in which everyone is born free and equal in dignity and rights — no exceptions, no one left behind. Yet it’s still a hollow promise for many millions of LGBT people forced to confront hatred, intolerance, violence and discrimination on a daily basis.”

In its journal, the UNPA said that the Free & Equal campaign’s message of acceptance and equality has reached some 2 billion people.

In its announcement of the Free & Equal issue, the UNPA also said that these were its first stamps with an LGBT theme.

The report from the United Nations News Centre said that the series was co-sponsored by the permanent missions of Argentina, Australia, Chile, El Salvador, Germany, Israel, the Netherlands, Norway, the United Kingdom, the United States, Uruguay, and the delegation of the European Union, in addition to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UNPA.

For ordering information, visit UN Stamps; email unpanyinquiries@un.org; telephone 800-234-8672; fax 212-963-9854; or write to UNPA, Box 5900, Grand Central Station, New York, NY 10163-5900.