Obama Calls On UN To Protect Gay Rights
September 21st, 2011
President Barack Obama spoke at the United Nations General Assembly today, where he called on member states to protect the human rights of gays and lesbians:
And to make sure our societies reach their potential, we must allow our citizens to reach theirs. No country can afford the corruption that plagues the world like a cancer. Together, we must harness the power of open societies and open economies. That’s why we’ve partnered with countries from across the globe to launch a new partnership on open government that helps ensure accountability and helps to empower citizens. No country should deny people their rights to freedom of speech and freedom of religion, but also no country should deny people their rights because of who they love, which is why we must stand up for the rights of gays and lesbians everywhere.
According to the White House, this is the first time that a sitting U.S. President affirmed the rights of gays and lesbians before the U.N. General Assembly.
UN Rights Body Passes Historic Resolution on Anti-Gay Violence and Discrimination
June 20th, 2011
Following intense negotiations, the United Nations Human Rights Council on Friday voted 23-19 in favor of a declaration expressing “grave concern at acts of violence and discrimination, in all regions of the world, committed against individuals because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.” The resolution LAO calls for a panel discussion next spring with “constructive, informed and transparent dialogue on the issue of discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against” gays, lesbians and transgender people.
This resolution marks the first time a UN body has addressed human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and follows a joint statement on these issues delivered at the March session of the council. The resolution was proposed by South Africa, and was joined by 39 additional co-sponsors from around the world. Given that homophobia represents official governmental policy in much of Africa, it was considered crucial that South Africa lead the fight for the resolution. South Africa is the only nation on the continent to provide for marriage equality.
Other co-sponsors, including many states which are not members of the Human Rights Council, included Albania, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Honduras, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Timor-Leste, United Kingdom, United States, and Uruguay.
The United States, which is not a member of the Human Rights Council, reacted to the vote with this statement after the declaration passed:
“This marks a significant milestone in the long struggle for equality, and the beginning of a universal recognition that LGBT persons are endowed with the same inalienable rights — and entitled to the same protections — as all human beings.”
The full text of the resolution reads as follows:
Human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity
The Human Rights Council
Recalling the universality, interdependence, indivisibility and interrelatedness of human rights as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and consequently elaborated in other human rights instruments, such as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and other relevant core human rights instruments,
Recallling also that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirms that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights and that everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in that Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, or other status;
Recalling further General Assembly resolution 60/251 of 15 March 2006, in which the Assembly stated that the Human Rights Council should be responsible for promoting universal respect for the protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, without distinction of any kind and in fair and equal manner,
Expressing grave concern at acts of violence and discrimination, in all regions of the world, committed against individuals because of their sexual orientation and gender identity,
1. Requests the High Commissioner to commission a study to be finalized by December 2011, to document discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity, in all regions of the world, and how international human rights law can be used to end violence and related human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity;
2. Decides to convene a panel discussion during the 19th session of the Human Rights Council, informed by the facts contained in the study commissioned by the High Commissioner and to have constructive, informed and transparent dialogue on the issue of discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity;
3. Decides also that the panel will also discuss the appropriate follow-up to the recommendations of the study commissioned by the High Commissioner;
4. Decides to remain seized of this priority issue.
States supporting the resolution were Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Ecuador, France, Guatemala, Hungary, Japan, Mauritius, Mexico, Norway, Poland, Republic of Korea, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, Ukraine, Thailand, UK, USA, Uruguay.
States voting against the resolution were Angola, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Cameroon, Djibouti, Gabon, Ghana, Jordan, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar, Moldova, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Uganda. Three states abstained (Burkina Faso, China, Zambia), and Kyrgyzstan’s representative was absent. Libya, who also holds a seat in human rights body without a hint of irony, was also absent, having been suspended over the ongoing uprising.
United Nations Restores Sexual Orientation To Resolution Condeming Extrajudicial, Summary and Arbitrary Executions
December 22nd, 2010
The United Nations General Assembly yesterday succeeded in restoring “sexual orientation” to a resolution condemning extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions. The category of sexual orientation had been removed last month as a result of an Arab and African proposal. Yesterday’s 93-55 vote (with 27 abstentions) approved an American proposal to reinsert “sexual orientation” back into the resolution. The resolution was then passed with 122 yes votes, none against and 59 abstentions.
The UN passes a resolution every two years condemning extrajudicial killings. The 2008 version included a reference to sexual orientation. Zimbabwe’s U.N. Ambassador Chitsaka Chipaziwa harshly condemned its re-insertion into the 2010 resolution:
We will not have it foisted on us,” he said. “We cannot accept this, especially if it entails accepting such practices as bestiality, pedophilia and those other practices many societies would find abhorrent in their value systems.
“In our view, what adult people do in their private capacity by mutual consent does not need agreement or rejection by governments, save where such practices are legally proscribed,” Chitsaka said.
Paul Canning, who has an extensiverundown of the vote, reports that one-third of African countries either supported the American proposal to reintroduce “sexual orientation” into the resolution or abstained from voting, representing a change from their votes last month removing the clause. He also notes that almost all of the Caribbean, including Jamaica, also changed their votes as well. Canning noted the Rwandan ambassador’s “yes” vote:
In the debate at the UN the most moving contribution was from the Rwandan delegate who said that a group does not need to be “legally defined” to be targeted for massacres and referenced his countries experience. “We can’t continue to hide our heads in the sand” he said.”These people have a right to life.”
UN Official Condemns Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill
January 15th, 2010
If any part of Uganda’s draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill becomes law, that nation will be well on its way to becoming a pariah state for its gross violations of human rights. The UN High Commissioner on Human Rights has weighed in:
UN rights chief Navi Pillay on Friday urged the Ugandan government to scrap an anti-homosexuality bill which is to be put before parliament, saying that it was “blatantly discriminatory.”
“The bill clearly breaches international human rights standards, as it is blatantly discriminatory,” said Pillay in a statement.
…”It is extraordinary to find legislation like this being proposed more than 60 years after the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights … made it clear this type of discrimination is unacceptable,” she added.
Calling on Uganda to “shelve (the) draconian draft bill,” Pillay warned that the bill could seriously hurt the country’s reputation.
UN Official: Uganda May Lose AIDS Research Center If “Kill Gays” Bill Passes
December 14th, 2009
Uganda may lose the chance to host a major AIDS research institution if its parliament passes a bill against homosexuality, a United Nations official has said. Catherine Hankins, the chief scientific advisor for UNAIDS, suggested that her organisation and the World Health Organisation (WHO) could take a decision on the location of the institution depending on whether the bill passes.
The African AIDS Vaccine Programme (AAVP) is slated to be relocated from Geneva, Switzerland, to Entebbe. But if the bill passes, UNAIDS and WHO will revisit that decision.