Archive for September, 2010

IACHR Takes Case Involving Chile to the Inter-American Court

Repost – Interamerican Commission on Human Rights

Washington, D.C., September 20, 2010 – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) filed an application with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in a case involving Chile.

On September 17, 2010, the IACHR filed an application in the Karen Atala and daughters, which concerns the discriminatory treatement and arbitrary interference in the private and family life Karen Atala experienced due to her sexual orientation. In the Merits Report 139/09, the Commission concluded that the State of Chile was responsible for the discrimination against Karen Atala in the course of judicial process that resulted in the decision to deny her the care and custody of her daughters. The case also concerns the failure to observe the best interest of her daughters, whose custody and care the Commission considered were determined in violation to their rights. The case was referred to the Inter-American Court because the IACHR concluded the State did not comply with the recommendations contained in its Merits Report.

This is the first case that the Inter-American Commission decides on discrimination based on sexual orientation. This case will allow the Inter-American Court to decide for the first time on the incompatibility of this type of discrimination with the American Convention.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this matter. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in a personal capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

U.S. Co-Sponsors High-Level Panel on LGBT Rights at United Nations in Geneva

Deputy Assistant Secretary Baer and High Commissioner Pillay engage in High Level Panel on LGBT Rights

Repost from the United State Mission to the United Nations and other International Organizations in Geneva (http://geneva.usmission.gov/)

Discussion focuses on Ending Violence and Discrimination Against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Persons

Photo Gallery

The United States is pleased to have been a co-sponsor of the September 17, 2010 panel discussion “Ending Violence and Criminal Sanctions on the Basis of Sexual Orientation” at the United Nations Office in Geneva during the 15th Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The panel brought U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay, and human rights defenders from three regions: Alice Nkom, a lawyer and activist from Cameroon, David Clarke, from the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination in Guyana and Sunita Kujur, from Creating Resources for Empowerment in Action, India.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon sent a written message appealing for an end to the criminalization of people on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Read the full story here

An LGBT Response to the State Department’s UPR Report

By Julie Dorf, Senior Advisor

The best part of Arizona Governor Jan Brewer’s livid reaction to the U.S. report to the United Nations on our country’s human rights record was that it put this relatively obscure international human rights instrument–known as the Universal Periodic Review (UPR)–into the mainstream news this week. CNN and the New York Times would otherwise never have covered the UPR submission of the United States at the UN’s Human Rights Council without a scandal to report. Brewer was furious at the inclusion of a very brief mention of the pending federal court case reviewing Arizona’s controversial SB 1070 law on immigration, through which the federal government argues that they, not the states, are responsible for immigration law.

Both the left and the right had predictable reactions to the 25-page U.S. report released last week. The left made long lists of issues not covered adequately in the report, which is limited in length by the UN process itself. The US Human Rights Network, Human Rights Watch, Center for Women’s Global Leadership, and many other important groups raised important issues that got short shrift in the official U.S. government report. The right predictably questioned the U.S. engaging in the UN process at all. The Heritage Foundation uses the report to criticize the Obama administration for joining the newly formed Human Rights Council in the first place, calling it “a mutual praise society for repressive regimes.” And the gay community’s The Advocate published a piece criticizing the Council for Global Equality for our participation in the UN process when weeks prior we submitted our own report of the U.S. record on the human rights of LGBT people. The Advocate’s James Kirchick claimed that when the American LGBT community uses this global human rights mechanism for advocacy, it “effectively minimizes the appalling way in which the world’s genuine human rights abusers treat their gay citizens.” (See the criticism here, and our rebuttal here.)

In fact, the U.S. report is more honest and self-reflective than anything we would have gotten from prior administrations, even if it does attempt to position the Obama administration as doing everything it possibly can on the many unresolved human rights problems in this country. We know that further leadership is required of our government, and it is our role as advocates to keep the pressure on.

For the LGBT community, the report includes a relatively extensive paragraph (page 9, paragraph 34) outlying the administration’s support for most of the legislation still pending in Congress that would move us toward the goal of equality for LGBT Americans. It contextualizes the LGBT community’s struggle by writing, “In each era of our history there tends to be a group whose experience of discrimination illustrates the continuing debate among citizens about how we can build a more fair society. In this era, one such group is LGBT Americans.”

The State Department report says: “Debate continues over equal rights to marriage for LGBT Americans at the federal and state levels, and several states have reformed their laws to provide for same-sex marriages, civil unions, or domestic partnerships. At the federal level, the President supports repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act.” It is here that we must register our disappointment. Although we understand the real political constraints facing the administration, we want our President to support full marriage equality for all LGBT Americans, as well as the Respect for Marriage Act. Unfortunately, Obama has felt compelled to articulate and re-articulate his opposition to marriage equality and his support for civil unions. LGBT Americans deserve a government that stands up on “controversial issues” not only to the Governor Brewers of the United States, but to state laws and ballot measures that restrict the human rights of LGBT Americans—including our right to form family.

Our nation has a long history of intense power struggles between the states and the federal government. On immigration, the federal government has voiced its opposition to the Arizona law. The Council would have liked to see a similar call-out about California or Arkansas–states that also overstepped their authority by taking away rights from same-sex couples of existing relationship and family protections through their ballot measure process. The Arkansas adoption ban was overturned in the courts, and a case is currently pending challenging California’s Proposition 8 in federal courts, which was not mentioned in the report.

Thank you Governor Brewer for helping to bring the public’s attention to the UPR report this week, and to the continued need for us to stay vigilant about the proper role of the state and the federal government in the implementation of our human rights values and obligations, as we continue to perfect our nation’s union.

Human Rights Defenders Combating Discrimination to Receive 2010 Honors

Viktória Mohácsi (photo: taken from official EU MEP) and Julius Kaggwa (photo:Bronwynne Pereira)

Press Release from Human Rights First
CONTACT: Brenda Bowser Soder
bowsersoderb@humanrightsfirst.org
C: 301-906-4460, W: 202-370-3323

New York City – Human Rights First will present its 2010 Human Rights Award to a renowned Hungarian advocate for the rights of the Roma people in Europe and a Ugandan activist on the front lines of defeating a draconian anti-homosexuality bill there. The group will honor this year’s recipients, Julius Kaggwa and Viktória Mohácsi, at its annual award dinner in New York City on Thursday, Oct. 21.

“Julius and Viktória are courageous leaders in the fight against discrimination and hate crimes in their own societies,” said Human Rights First President and CEO Elisa Massimino. “Human Rights First is pleased to honor these activists who—at great personal risk—stand up for the rights of those targeted for discrimination and abuse, Julius in Africa and Viktória in Europe. LGBTI persons and the Roma face prejudices that often are masked as socially acceptable in both parts of the world. In reality, such prejudices are at the root of widespread discrimination, marginalization, and outright violence. Despite death threats and ongoing danger to their own well-being, these two human rights advocates persevere in the struggle for equal opportunity and equal treatment for all. We draw strength from their resolve and their example. We are privileged to work with them and to honor their courage and achievements with this award.” Read the complete story


Stay Informed

Subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 158 other followers

Follow us on Twitter

Categories


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 158 other followers