Posts Tagged 'United Nations Human RIghts Council'

Op-Ed “Demonizing Gays in Africa”

Repost from the New York TimesBy 

As acceptance of gays and lesbians has grown in the United States and Europe, intolerance and persecution has been rising in other parts of the world. African nations are leaders in this cruel and dehumanizing trend.

The latest alarms were triggered by a ban in Nigeria on same-sex relationships that was passed by Parliament in May and signed by President Goodluck Jonathan on Jan. 7. Nigeria is a leading oil producer and Africa’s most populous country, and the ban is considered the most significant setback yet to gay rights on the continent.

Although gay sex has been illegal in Nigeria since British colonial rule, the draconian new law criminalizes homosexuality, banning same-sex marriage and prescribing years in prison to anyone who makes a “public show” of same-sex relationships or participates in gay organizations. Even people who simply support gays are subject to criminal arrest and penalties.

Before the new law was enacted, convictions for gay sex were rare in the southern part of Nigeria and occasional in the mostly Muslim north. But since the law went into effect, as Adam Nossiter has reported in The Times, arrests of gays have multiplied and some people have sought asylum overseas. According to Amnesty International, homosexuality is illegal in 38 of 54 countries in Africa. It carries the death penalty in Mauritania, Sudan and Somalia; in northern Nigeria, where Islamic law is practiced, the penalty can be death by stoning. In Senegal, the press regularly “outs” gays and same-sex relations carry a penalty of five years in prison. Another severe law has been passed by Uganda’s Legislature, but President Yoweri Museveni has not and should not sign it.

Such laws violate commitments made by United Nations members in theUniversal Declaration of Human Rights and other human rights documents.

If these nations cannot do the humane thing, they should at least consider their self-interest. For any leader who values stability, it makes no sense to promote new laws that foment greater hostility among people, like in Nigeria, where there is already ethnic tension.

Even in countries where antigay laws are not enforced, they provide an excuse for abuse — including blackmail and extortion — by police, Amnesty International said. It is unlikely that any of these countries can reach their full economic potential because many foreign entities may find it too risky to invest in such hostile environments. These governments, in abusing their citizens, are moving in dangerous and destructive directions.

Free and Equal: A Global Public Education Campaign Combatting Homophobia and Transphobia

United Nations Free and EqualOn 16 July, human rights defender and journalist Eric Lembembe was brutally tortured and murdered in Cameroon. Cases like these are reported far too often throughout the world.

A 2011 report by the UN Human Rights Office found an alarming pattern of brutal violence and widespread discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in all regions. In 76 countries, adult same-sex relationships are criminalized, exposing lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals to the risk of arrest, imprisonment, torture, and even, in five countries, the death penalty.

While attitudes are shifting and many Governments are slowly making progress implementing reforms including anti-discrimination and hate crime laws, more work remains to be done, in all regions, to tackle hate-motivated violence and discrimination against LGBT people.

At a press event in Cape Town, South Africa, UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay, together with Archbishop Desmond Tutu and South African Constitutional Court Justice Edwin Cameron, launched Free & Equal, an unprecedented global public education campaign to promote greater respect for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people everywhere.

Speaking at the launch, Pillay argued that eradicating discrimination of any kind required more than just changes in laws and policies; it took a change in people’s hearts and minds as well.

“Changing attitudes is never easy,” she said. “But it has happened on other issues and it is happening already in many parts of the world on this one. It begins with often difficult conversations. With this campaign, we want to help start and inform millions of conversations among people around the world and across the ideological spectrum.”

In addition to engaging fact sheets and articles, Free & Equal will generate a stream of creative content – including short videos, infographics and testimonies –all designed to dispel common misconceptions and negative stereotypes and encourage people to look at the lives of LGBT people through the eyes of LGBT people and their families. All campaign materials will be made available on the campaign’s website, UNFE.org.

UN Human Rights OfficePillay described Nelson Mandela as a great source of inspiration for the campaign and recalled his faith in education as the best weapon against prejudice. “He used to say that people are not born hating one another; they learn to hate,” Pillay said. “And that if people can learn to hate, they can be taught to love—that love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

The Free & Equal campaign was conceived and developed by the UN Human Rights Office and is implemented in partnership with the Purpose Foundation—a non-profit organization that develops global social-media driven campaigns on human rights issues.

Several global celebrities have already pledged their support for the campaign including musician Ricky Martin, South African singer Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Bollywood actress Celina Jaitly, Brazilian novelist Paulo Coelho, and Brazilian singer Daniela Mercury.

You can learn more about Free & Equal and sign up to receive campaign materials and updates by visiting the campaign website at UNFE.org, or follow the campaign at facebook.com/free.equal or via Twitter @free_equal.

United Nations Moves Forward on LGBT Rights

Opening up U.S. assistance programs to LGBT populationsThe United Nations process to discuss a Human Rights Council resolution on sexual orientation and gender identity ended in Oslo on Tuesday with a conclusions document that calls for a special UN mechanism for ongoing attention to human rights abuses based on sexual orientation and gender identity. In 2011, the South African government, together with a group of other supportive nations, led a successful resolution on LGBT issues that called for a high-level panel discussion as well as a report outlining the vast array of human rights abuses that take place every day across the globe based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Oslo was the wrap up event after regional meetings took place earlier this year in Latin America, Europe, Asia, and parts of Africa. Over 200 governmental and non-governmental delegates were invited to Oslo for an event co-hosted by South Africa and Norway, representing over 60 countries for two days of intense discussions and debates. Highlights of the conference included video messages from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon as well as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillar. Both strongly called for a new mechanism to regularly track and report on human rights abuses based on sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as chronicle promising practices for combating such abuses. Many side conversations about promising developments took place with government representatives in attendance. Moldovan government officials talked about their new Equality Council, which will launch in the summer to help implement their new Anti-Discrimination Law, which should help protect against anti-LGBT bias. Vietnam is revising their Family Law, and the government is seriously considering expanding the definition of family to be fully inclusive of same-sex relationships. Many other governments discussed both their problems as well as their practices in addressing discrimination and violence.

The Council for Global Equality participated in two regional pre-meetings together with two of our member organizations, the National Center for Transgender Equality as well as the National Center for Lesbian Rights. We drew attention to the many issues here in the United States that stand in the way of full equality for LGBT Americans. We also worked with our colleagues from the regions to ensure that the array of LGBT human rights concerns would be addressed in the next steps that the UN Human Rights Council takes in its next resolution on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The Council was very pleased that the United States government’s participation in this important process was strong and steadfastly supportive of its LGBT citizenry, as well as its commitments to LGBT people globally. Other governments, particularly South Africa, were similarly clearly supportive of moving the bar higher in the next iteration of this resolution coming up in June. LGBT advocates and supportive governments around the world are ready to encourage additional governmental co-sponsors of the coming resolution, as well as to ensure that the 47 members of the HRC vote in favor of it’s passage. As Ban Ki -Moon said in his video message to the conference: Together we can make the world safer, freer, and more equal for everyone.

Human Rights Day Message from Navi Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

Click for Related Information on Human Rights Day:

Visit the My Voice Counts page of the United Nations

Statement by Ambassador Susan E. Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, on International Human Rights Day

Celebrating Human Rights Day- U.S. Department of State

Press Statement from Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton

U.S. Accomplishments During Its First Term on the UN Human Rights Council

The United States has been re-elected to the UN Human Rights Council and yesterday the U.S. Department of State released a statement highlighting the accomplishments during its first term. They note country-specific situations such as Syria, Libya and Burma among others.

The statement goes on to list accomplishments in promoting universal human rights such as freedom of assembly and internet freedom.  The release also highlights the work done to advance the rights of LGBT people around the globe.

Advancing the Rights of LGBT Persons: In June 2011 the Council adopted the first-ever UN resolution on the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons. This resolution commissioned a groundbreaking UN report on the human rights abuses that LGBT persons face around the globe, and has opened a broader international discussion on how to best promote and protect the human rights of LGBT persons. As a co-sponsor of this resolution, the United States demonstrated its commitment to an active role in ensuring fair treatment and equality for all people.

You can read the full release here

Born Free and Equal, New Report from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Born Free and Equal - OHCHRToday the Officer of the High Commissioner for Human Rights released a report on sexual orientation and gender identity in human rights law titled, “Born Free and Equal“. The 60 page booklet outlines the 5 core legal obligation of states to protect the human rights of LGBT persons. Sections include: protecting individuals from homophobic and transphobic violence, prevention of torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of LGBT persons, decriminalizing homosexuality, the prohibition of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and respecting freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly.

The report draws on over 18 years of documented violations of the human rights of LGBT people and analysis of state compliance with international human rights law. This report summarizes and advises states on meeting their fundamental human rights obligations. The booklet is also meant to assist human rights defenders in holding states accountable to these obligations.

Visit the OHCHR website to find out more. The report will also be released in Spanish, French, Arabic, Russian and Chinese in the coming months. You can download the English version here.

Pillay presents groundbreaking UN study on violence, discrimination against people because of their sexual orientation

Navi Pillay, High Commissioner for Human Rights, United Nations

Watch the full Panel discussion on the issue of discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.

Statement by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay to the Panel on ending violence and discrimination against individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity at the Human Rights Council 19th Session 

Geneva, 7 March 2012

Excellencies,

Distinguished representatives,

Dear colleagues,

I am pleased to present my study on discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. In doing so, I am conscious of the divergent view both within and outside the Council on the rights of individuals based on sexual orientation and gender identity. However, I am certain that none among you will be willing to tolerate serious, systematic violations of human rights against them.

The Secretary-General says he didn’t grow up talking about these issues. The same may be true for a number of us here today. Like the Secretary-General, we are in the process of educating ourselves. But it is time to acknowledge that, while we have been talking of other things, terrible violence and discrimination has been perpetrated against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.

This Council stood up for the rights of all when, last June, States from all regions joined together to adopt resolution 17/19 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.”

By the same resolution, the Council requested me to prepare a study “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 to examine “how international human rights law can be used to end violence and related human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity.” Continue reading ‘Pillay presents groundbreaking UN study on violence, discrimination against people because of their sexual orientation’

Video: How gay rights debate began at the UN

Watch UN human rights chief Navi Pillay looks back at the evolution of the gay rights

Watch Secretary Clinton’s Remarks at Event Celebrating LGBT Pride Month

Remarks by Ambassador Susan E. Rice at LGBT Pride Month Reception

Amb. Susan Rice, United NationsRemarks by Ambassador Susan E. Rice at a LGBT Pride Month Reception Held by Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies, at the State Department

Susan E. Rice
U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations
U.S. Mission to the United Nations 
Washington, DC
June 24, 2011

Thank you. It’s great to be with you here today. And I want to thank my IO colleague Chris Deutsch for that warm introduction and Jon Tollefson for everything he does to lead GLIFAA.

It’s particularly fitting that I am able to speak to this group today—exactly one week after the United Nations, for the first time in history, adopted a resolution dedicated to advancing the basic and fundamental human rights of LGBT persons. That vote at the Human Rights Council marked a major victory for defenders of human rights. It sent a clear message that abuses based on sexual orientation and gender identity must end. And for the first time ever, it commissioned a UN report to investigate the challenges that LGBT persons face.

This was more than just another vote in Geneva. That vote marked the beginnings of universal recognition that LGBT persons are endowed with the same inalienable rights as all human beings and entitled to the same protections as all human beings. The United Nations is finally beginning to codify and enshrine the promise of equality for LGBT persons—and as it does so, the world will become a safer, more just, and more humane place for all. Continue reading ‘Remarks by Ambassador Susan E. Rice at LGBT Pride Month Reception’


Stay Informed

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

Join 159 other followers

Follow us on Twitter

Categories


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 159 other followers