Rainbow Festival 18th October 2015 Dear everyone, David Binder, the famous producer, once said that “Festivals promote diversity, they bring neighbours into dialogue, they increase creativity, they offer opportunities for civic pride, they improve our general psychological well-being. In short, they make cities better places to live”. I couldn’t agree more. Given that, it is with great pleasure that I address all of you today, on behalf of our Office, the Office of the Commissioner for Administration and Human Rights, (in short, the Ombudsman) within this festive and embracing environment, which has been created, once again – the Rainbow Festival. At a time, when our contact with "different" is closer than ever, discrimination continues to divide societies. The negotiation of the matter of diversity coincides with a period, in which humanity is unable to secure, for thousands of people, the most basic of rights, the right to life. All of us, these days, unfortunately some more vividly than others, are witnessing, the drama of thousands – or rather millions – of people and their tragic efforts to find refuge and to ensure their survival in safer destinations. Full respect for diversity and the breaking down of any prejudice and stereotypes are essential prerequisites for the existence of a democratic society. Of course, the formulation of a culture of receptivity and respect for diversity is not an easy task. But it is the only way to bring about equality. Unity in diversity, multiculturalism as a feature of modern, democratic and tolerant communities can be important factors of renewal and enrichment of our societies and cultures. Regulations and legislations, and guidelines over guidelines, regarding respect for diversity and acceptance may constitute empty, winged words, unless we act on them and we materialise their meaning. It is a fact that the Ombudsman’s Office, and notably from 2004, when the Anti-Discrimination Body was established, takes a daily stance in defense of human rights and elimination of all forms of discrimination in the Cyprus society, through Reports and Positions, as well as awareness raising campaigns, educational and informative actions etc. And, it will continue to work for achieving this goal and to try, in every way, to contribute to the construction of a society, free from phenomena of racism and prejudice syndromes. Lastly, I would like to congratulate the coordinators of this event, KISA, and everyone else who engages and contributes for this to take place, for continuing their efforts and for constituting this festival, for the past 17 years, an annual “appointment” of cultures.