NEW YORK (AP) Amid a surge of anti-gay violence and repression in several countries, the United Nations’ human rights office on Friday launched its first global outreach campaign to promote tolerance and greater equality for lesbians, gays, transgender people and bisexuals.
UN Issues Anti-Homophobia Message
76 countries still criminalize consensual same-sex relationships and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people everywhere continue to suffer violent attacks and discriminatory treatment. In this simple, high-impact video from the UN human rights office, individuals from diverse backgrounds pose questions directly to the viewer designed to expose the nature of human rights violations suffered by LGBT people around the world. The video includes cameo appearances by UN Secretary-General and High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay. The UN’s message: LGBT rights are human rights. Together we will build a world that is free and equal.
United Nations Condemns Gay Death Penalty
Yesterday the United Nations approved a resolution that condemns the killing of LGBT persons either by governments or via “extrajudicial” means such as hate crimes. Via press release from the International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission:An international coalition of organizations dedicated to human rights celebrated yesterday’s historic vote in the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) to pass resolution condemning extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. The vote reversed the events of 2010 when the same body voted to strip the resolution of reference to “sexual orientation.” The UNGA also expanded upon its commitment to the universality of human rights by including “gender identity” for the first time in the resolution’s history. The resolution, which is introduced biennially in the Third Committee, urges States to protect the right to life of all people, including by calling upon States to investigate killings based on discriminatory grounds. It was introduced by the Government of Sweden and co-sponsored by 34 states from around the world.
IGLHRC notes that the United Arab Emirates attempted to strip ”sexual orientation” from the resolution on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, just as they did two years ago. (See the photo [below] for the vote tally on that amendment.) They add: “Another failed effort, led by the Holy See, would have stripped all specific references to groups at high risk for execution; however it was never formally introduced.”
The governments of the United States, Brazil, and many others spoke in favor of the resolution. IGLHRC reports that Egypt “spoke frequently” in opposition. Japan broke its long silence on the issue with this declaration: “We cannot tolerate any killings of persons because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Our delegation voted against the proposed amendment to this paragraph because we think it is meaningful to mention such killings from the perspective of protecting the rights of LGBT people.”
Read the full resolution here.
French President, Francois Hollande, Calls On UN To Support Decriminalizing Homosexuality
French President François Hollande yesterday made an historic speech to the UN General Assembly, calling on the body to reject the criminalization of homosexuality around the world.
Hollande told those assembled that France would lead the way in an honorable fight for universal human freedoms:
Said Hollande: “France will continue to engage in all these struggles: for the abolition of the death penalty, for women’s rights to equality and dignity, for the universal decriminalization of homosexuality, which should not be recognised as a crime but, on the contrary, recognized as a [sexual] orientation.
He added:“‘All members countries have the obligation to guarantee the security of their citizens, and if one nation adheres to this obligation, it is then imperative that we, the United Nations, facilitate the necessary means to make that guarantee. These are the issues that France will lead and defend in the United Nations. I say this with seriousness. When there is paralysis… and inaction, then injustice and intolerance can find their place.”
Obama Address UN General Assembly, Advocates For LGBT Rights
It starts at 33:50. It’s worthy to watch it all, thou.
Song Of The Day: Beyoncé - I Was Here (United Nations World Humanitarian Day Performance)
United Nations Condemns Proposed Anti-Gay Legislation In Liberia
Via The Christian Post:
The new legislation makes homosexual acts, including sodomy and lesbian acts, a second degree felony, the punishment for which includes a fine and up to five years in jail. Such acts, including “voluntary sodomy,” are currently classified as misdemeanors and carry a one-year jail sentence. Additionally, the amendments also impose penalties on anyone who “seduces, encourages, or promotes another person of the same gender to engage into sexual activities.” Despite calls from international agencies to decriminalize homosexuality, many in Liberia continue to stand by their conservative beliefs regarding homosexual behavior. In March 2012, Nobel Peace Prize winner and Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf defended her country’s criminalization of homosexuality, telling Britain’s Tony Blair in an interview with the Guardian: “We like ourselves just the way we are […] we’ve got certain traditional values in our society that we would like to preserve.”
The fliers include this threat: “Let these individuals be aware that we are coming after them soon. We urge them to also begin saying the Lord’s Prayer.”
The fliers distributed over the weekend in parts of Liberia’s capital were signed by the Movement Against Gay’s in Liberia, or MOGAL. The group said those involved in promoting gay rights “should not be given space to get a gulp of air.” “Having conducted a comprehensive investigation, we are convinced that the below listed individuals are gays or supporters of the club who don’t mean well for our country,” the fliers read. “Therefore, we have agreed to go after them using all means in life.” No individual members of MOGAL signed the flier. But Moses Tapleh, a 28-year-old resident of the main community where the flier was distributed, said he was affiliated with the group and stressed that its threats should be taken seriously. “We will get to them one by one,” Tapleh said. “They want to spoil our country.” Asked what specific action might be taken against those on the list, he said they could be subjected to “dangerous punishments” including “flogging and death.”
South Africa & Brazil Demand UN Action On LGBT Rights
Pink News UK reports:
United Nations ambassadors for South Africa and Brazil have demanded more action and discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity as part as universal human rights standards, and to combat hate crimes.
The Ambassador of South Africa to the United Nations, on behalf of his country and Brazil, delivered a statement on 2 July to the United Nations Humans Rights Council, saying that LGBT rights are part of the Universal standard of Human Rights, and demanding action against discrimination and hate crimes.
The statement calls for further discussion and work on the issue of violence against LGBT people and their rights being part and parcel of the universal declaration of human rights.
This joint statement came after the first global panel discussion on sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) which was held in the UN Human Rights council on 7 March 2012.
The panel discussion was conducted due to a report from the High Commissioner from the council that showed the enormity of the situation facing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. It stated although there are scarce official statistics, in all regions, there is widespread bias in jobs, schools and hospitals. People have suffered sexual assault, been imprisoned, tortured and killed
The discussion ended in disagreement with some countries agreeing that further action was necessary and that SOGI should be part and parcel of the universal standards of Human Rights. Others, mostly lead by the Organization of Islamic States (OIC), refused to take part and along with some African states, China and Russia, rejected the idea, saying it was a ‘cultural notion’. The OIC further demanded ‘that this will be the last time that the Human Rights Council discusses LGBT rights.’
Since then the matter has not been discussed and the joint statement by South Africa and Brazil stated this must change: ‘We should not inadvertently undermine the promotion and protection of human rights by remaining silent.’
The joint declaration further rejected the objections by the OIC reaffirming that SOGI is part and parcel of the Universal idea of Human Rights and that ‘discriminating against people on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity is no more acceptable than doing so on the basis of race, religion, nationality or other grounds… Nobody should be excluded from the protection of international human rights law.’
The statement also called to find a way ‘to end the violence and discrimination that existed in all regions … In the spirit of ubuntu in Africa, meaning “I am because you are”, all people share a link with one another through their common humanity, which also carries with it a shared responsibility to care for one another. The same principle underpins the concept of universal human rights.’
South Africa and Brazil further called upon all countries not to shy away from dialogue and engaging with opposing views (of countries objecting the inclusion of SOGI as a universal standard of Human Rights) stating: ‘reconciling universal standards of human rights with local ideas of culture was challenging but necessary work.’
Experts point out that the joint statement comes at an important time, as different countries and stakeholders from all regions consider next steps and follow-up initiatives in the wake of the panel last March.
Strong pro LGBT statements were also delivered by Norway, the Council of Europe, and civil society including a joint statement by ILGA-Europe, COC Netherlands and ARC and other organizations.
UN Secretary General: African Governments Must Respect Gay Rights
Pink News UK reports:
The United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has told African leaders that they must respect gay rights in an unusually outspoken declaration made at an African Union summit in Ethiopia.
Mr Ban told delegates at the event held in Addis Ababa: “One form of discrimination ignored or even sanctioned by many states for too long has been discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity,
“It prompted governments to treat people as second-class citizens or even criminals,” he added.
Homosexuality is illegal in many African countries and there is widespread discrimination in those that do not outlaw gay sex. Only South Africa recognises LGBT rights in its constitution and allows gay marriage.
“Confronting these discriminations is a challenge, but we must not give up on the ideas of the universal declaration” of human rights, Mr Ban told the summit.
Last year, the British government said it would divert aid away from African governments that discriminate against LGBT citizensprompting Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe to describe British prime minister David Cameron as ‘satanic’. He said: ““It becomes worse and satanic when you get a prime minister like Cameron saying countries that want British aid should accept homosexuality. To come with that diabolic suggestion to our people is a stupid offer.”
African Union chairman Tedoro Obiang Nguema, speaking before Mr Ban said: “Africa should not be questioned with regards to democracy, human rights, governance and transparency in public administration,”
In 2010, Mr Ban made a very public call for the end to discrimination against LGBT people saying: “As men and women of conscience, we reject discrimination in general, and in particular discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. When individuals are attacked, abused or imprisoned because of their sexual orientation, we must speak out.
We cannot stand by. We cannot be silent.
“This is all the more true in cases of violence. These are not merely assaults on individuals. They are attacks on all of us. They devastate families. They pit one group against another, dividing larger society. And when the perpetrators of violence escape without penalty, they make a mockery of the universal values we hold dear.
“We have a collective responsibility to stand against discrimination, to defend our fellow human beings and our fundamental principles.”
Ugandan President: Concerns Over Gay Rights Shouldn’t Affect Foreign Aid
The Advocate reports:
The president of Uganda has warned Western nations not to put strings on foreign development aid for the sake of LGBT rights, AFP reports.
"Before anyone gives me a lecture about homosexuals and their rights, first talk about railways," President Yoweri Museveni told delegates at a regional meeting in the capital city of Kampala with several other African heads of state. "Homosexuals also need electricity, homosexuals also need roads, homosexuals also need railways.” (Read the AFP report here.)
Museveni’s comments come less than two weeks after Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton gave a speech before the UN in Geneva on LGBT rights as fundamental human rights.
State Department officials have emphasized that the articulated foreign policy directives on LGBT rights as outlined by the Obama administration last week are “affirmative, not punitive.” For example, Clinton announced in her address the launch of a small global fund to support initiatives of LGBT groups in countries where gays may face criminal charges and hostile environments.
UK prime minister David Cameron had made bolder statements this fall, calling for the cutting of one type of bilateral aid to Commonwealth countries that criminalize homosexuality.
Some political observers view Museveni’s comments as small sign of progress, however roundabout: The Ugandan leader barely mentioned the existence of gay people in his country several years ago.
Meanwhile, three antigay Christian pastors in Uganda accused of a smear campaign against another religious leader faced conspiracy charges this week that could lead to five-year jail sentences, according to one regional report.
United Nations’ Report Calls On Countries To End Anti-LGBT Discrimination
The Advocate reports:
A report released Thursday by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights calls on countries to abolish laws that criminalize homosexuality and to include sexual orientation and gender identity in comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation, among other recommendations.
Commissioned by a historicresolution on anti-LGBT discrimination passed by the UN Human Rights Council in June, the first-of-its-kind report from Navanethem Pillay, the U.N.’s top human rights official, provides an overview of discrimination and violence around the world, including in the United States. The 25-page report reviews applicable international standards and obligations before documenting the current status of anti-LGBT discrimination and violence, followed by a list of recommendations based in international human rights law.
“In all regions, people experience violence and discrimination because of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” says the introduction of the report. “In many cases, even the perception of homosexuality or transgender identity puts people at risk. Violations include – but are not limited to – killings, rape and physical attacks, torture, arbitrary detention, the denial of rights to assembly, expression and information, and discrimination in employment, health and education.”
“Violence against LGBT persons tends to be especially vicious compared to other bias-motivated crimes,” said the report, citing work from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
While noting that more than 10 countries including the United States have moved to repeal laws criminalizing homosexuality since 2000, the report points out that 76 countries retain laws criminalizing people for sexual orientation and gender identity. The death penalty may be applied for consensual homosexual conduct in at least five countries.
For the full article, click here.
Gay Rights Activists At UN: No More Bullying
The Huffington Post reports:
Activists called on governments around the world to end homophobic bullying and violence, saying Thursday that gay rights are human rights that must be respected by all.
Judy Shepard, the mother of a young man murdered in an anti-gay crime in the U.S. in 1998, told the United Nations gathering that people with different sexual identities and orientations are all human beings with similar aspirations.
Anti-gay violence “is hate, it’s ignorance to single out a group of people,” said Shepard, who with her husband founded the Matthew Shepard Foundation after their son was killed.
Rights activists from Lebanon, Nigeria and Thailand joined several senior U.N. officials on the panel organized by the Netherlands in advance of International Human Rights Day. Saturday marks the 63rd anniversary of the U.N.-sponsored International Declaration of Human Rights.
U.N. members, with their diverse religious and cultural sensibilities, are often deeply divided over the issue of gay rights.
The U.N. undersecretary-general for human rights, Ivan Simonovic, told the gathering that education and information are needed to end anti-gay violence.
Simonovic said a new U.N. study on violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, to be released in the coming weeks, should help.
"The fact that a report of this kind is being published is in itself a sign of progress at the United Nations," he said. "I hope it will provide a basis for constructive dialogue."
Simonovic read a statement by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who said he continues to be “dismayed” by homophobic bullying, noting that some young victims of the practice can become depressed, drop out of school or even commit suicide.
Ban said all countries have a legal obligation to protect people from violence and discrimination, including on grounds of sexual orientation.
"This is a moral outrage, a grave violation of human rights and a public health crisis," the U.N. chief said. "It is also a loss for the entire human family when promising lives are cut short."