On Nov. 26, 2013, United Nations Free & Equal – the UN human rights office's public information campaign for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality – announced that hip hop duo Macklemore and Ryan Lewis are joining the campaign as equality champions.
Rapper Macklemore and music producer Ryan Lewis are the latest artists to pledge their support for Free & Equal by helping spread campaign messages and materials via social media. They join pop star Ricky Martin, South African singer Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Bollywood actress Celina Jaitly and Brazilian singer Daniela Mercury.
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis have been collaborating since 2008, releasing the album, The Heist in 2012. So far this year, the duo has been recognized with three MTV Video Music Awards, two American Music Awards, a Billboard Music Award and a YouTube Music Award. Their lead single “Thrift Shop” reached no. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart, and the video for the song has been watched by more than 450 million people on YouTube. Another single, “Same Love,” become an anthem for LGBT equality in several countries and won an MTV Video Music Award for ‘Best Video with a Social Message.’
“We're so honored to be working with the United Nations and Free & Equal to help spread a message of equality and respect. Ryan and I have always believed that human rights are for everyone - no exceptions,” Macklemore said.
Commenting on the announcement, Charles Radcliffe of the UN human rights office said, “Macklemore & Ryan Lewis are probably the biggest duo in music today. Their music is enjoyed by hundreds of millions of people but it’s also brought a human rights message to a massive new, global audience. We are thrilled to have their support for the Free & Equal campaign.”
The Free & Equal campaign aims to raise awareness of homophobic and transphobic violence and discrimination and encourage greater respect for the rights of LGBT people everywhere. The campaign was launched by United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay in Cape Town, South Africa on July 27, 2013 at an event featuring Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and South Africa Constitutional Court Justice Edwin Cameron.