Posts Tagged 'United Nations'

International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia

International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia

This week we join with the worldwide LGBT community in celebrating IDAHOT – the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.

Celebrated on May 17 – the 1990 date when the World Health Organization removed homosexuality from its International Classification of Diseases – IDAHO is a call to conscience that the rights of LGBT people around the world remain under attack. For many LGBT communities worldwide, celebrating Gay Pride isn’t an option, or comes with great risk to personal safety and security. Being openly LGBT, in fact, can be an invitation to harassment and abuse, and even death. Here in the U.S., IDAHO can bring back the awareness that sexual orientation and gender identity are not only to be celebrated, but also require us to defend our rights. We can use IDAHO to redouble our commitment to ensure respect, fairness, and equality for LGBT people every where.

Resources:

Visit Day Against Homophobia for a list of events by country

Joint Statement by U.S. Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Tom Malinowski and Finnish Ambassador to the United States Ritva Koukku-Rondeon the Occasion of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia

Secretary of State, John F. Kerry’s Statement “Commemorating International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia

Joint Statement by UN human rights experts, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders in Africa of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media

Statement by the President on the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia

Visit Human Rights Watch “African Voices Celebrate LGBT Equality” webpage.

Join ORAM’s Thunderclap campaign for IDAHOT 2014

Read HRC’s Op-Ed “Equality at Home and Abroad and the inaugural issue of “Equality Rising

UNAIDS expresses deep concern over impact of Ugandan bill on the rights of gay men

Press Statement from UNAIDS

If signed into law the controversial bill would toughen punishments against gay people in Uganda

GENEVA, 18 February 2014—UNAIDS is deeply concerned about a bill in Uganda that would further toughen punishments against gay men.

The controversial bill, which was passed by the country’s parliament in December 2013, calls for a 14-year jail term for a first conviction, and imprisonment for life for the offence of ‘aggravated homosexuality’. The signing of the bill into law would have serious human rights implications.

“Uganda was the first country in Africa to break the conspiracy of silence on AIDS—and to give voice to the most marginalized—but now I am scared that this bill will take Uganda backwards, relinquishing its leadership role in the AIDS response,” said Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS. “I strongly urge the Ugandan authorities to reject the bill and ensure the human rights and dignity of all people in Uganda.”

The bill also has public health implications; studies show that when gay people face discrimination including abuse, incarceration and prosecution—they are less likely to seek HIV testing, prevention and treatment services.

In 2012, there were 1.5 million people living with HIV in Uganda and 140 000 new HIV infections. Globally gay men are around 13 times more likely to become infected with HIV than the general population, emphasizing the urgent need to ensure safe access to HIV prevention and treatment services for all people everywhere.

UNAIDS urges the government of Uganda, and all governments around the world, to protect the human rights of lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender people through repealing criminal laws against adult consensual same sex sexual conduct; implementing laws to protect people from violence and discrimination; promoting campaigns that address homophobia and transphobia; and ensuring access to health services including HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services.

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.

Ban Ki-moon condemns persecution of gay people in Russia

Click image to watch short video of the speech

Click image to watch short video of the speech

Repost from The Guardian

The United Nations secretary-general has used a speech ahead of theWinter Olympics in Sochi to condemn attacks on the LGBT community, amid growing criticism of Russia‘s so-called “gay propaganda” laws.

Ban Ki-moon, addressing the IOC before Friday’s opening ceremony, highlighted the fact that the theme of the UN’s human rights day last December was “sport comes out against homophobia”.

“Many professional athletes, gay and straight, are speaking out against prejudice. We must all raise our voices against attacks on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex people,” he said. “We must oppose the arrests, imprisonments and discriminatory restrictions they face.”

“The United Nations stands strongly behind our own ‘free and equal’ campaign, and I look forward to working with the IOC, governments and other partners around the world to build societies of equality and tolerance. Hatred of any kind must have no place in the 21st century.” Continue Reading

Evangelicals Are Winning The Gay Marriage Fight — in Africa and Russia

Photo: Walter AstradaA/AFP/Getty Images

Photo: Walter AstradaA/AFP/Getty Images

Repost from National Journal

Long before President Obama selected three gay athletes to lead the American delegation to the Sochi Olympics, long before President Vladimir Putin declared Russia to be the world’s new “moral compass,” and long before practically anyone in the West had even heard of that country’s new “homosexual propaganda” law, one American had thought deeply about it—because he’d helped invent it. “My greatest success, in terms of my own personal strategy, is Russia,” Scott Lively says from his native Massachusetts, where he launched a quixotic bid for governor this year.

Lively, who is being sued in U.S. federal court by a gay-rights group for alleged crimes against humanity over his work fighting “the gay agenda” in Uganda, led a 50-city tour through the former Soviet Union several years ago to warn its citizens about the international gay conspiracy. His message and his proposed solution—to criminalize LGBT advocacy—were received with open arms in town-hall meetings, local legislatures, and St. Petersburg, which sent an open letter to the Russian people and later became one of the first cities in the country to outlaw “homosexual propaganda,” paving the way for the national legislation.

“I was an alcoholic and a drug addict until I got saved in 1986, and since that time my focus has been to restore a biblical focus with regards to marriage and sexuality,” he says. Lively became a lawyer, author, and advocate in pursuit of the cause, but he gave up on the United States almost a decade ago, when one of his cases (challenging an antidiscrimination law)failed. “I began shifting my emphasis, which is going to the other countries in the world that are still culturally conservative to warn them about how the Left has advanced its agenda in the U.S., Canada, and Europe—and to help put barriers in place. And the goal is to build a consensus of moral countries to actually roll back the leftist agenda in my country,” he explains matter-of-factly.

For Lively and the rest of a small but incredibly influential band of American activists who spend their time crisscrossing the globe to meet with foreign lawmakers, deliver speeches, make allies, cut checks, and otherwise foment a backlash against the so-called international gay-rights agenda, this is nothing less than a war for the fate of human civilization. Continue Reading

U.S. Mission to the United Nations: Remarks at a Roundtable Strategy Session on International LGBT Rights

Samantha PowerAs delivered by Ambassador Samantha Power, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations

I’d like to welcome you to the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, and I’d like to begin if I could with just a few remarks before handing the floor to Masha Gessen and Juliet Mphande from Zambia, and they’re going to offer their own opening reflections and then we’re going to have a great discussion together.

As you know, today is International Human Rights Day, and it’s hard to imagine an assemblage of activists who have done more to promote human rights than you all. The leaders in this room have come from places as near as snowy New York and as far as Moscow, Malaysia and Malawi; you’re a wonderfully diverse and, more importantly, an incredibly skilled and rigorous group from whom I am very eager to learn, so I will be very brief in the comments I make here.

Several years ago, when I began working on UN-related issues at the White House, the very organization that has brought many of you here today, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, was being denied consultative status here at the UN. Representatives of the Commission, I don’t have to tell you, sought year after year after year to gain the right to participate fully in the international system, but they were rejected because of what they stood for and whom they sought to protect and represent. We decided that we were not going to sit around and let that continue. And so we fought – and because we could accept nothing less, we eventually won. And when we did, President Obama himself said, quote “with the more full inclusion of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, the United Nations is closer to the ideals on which it was founded, and to the values of inclusion and equality to which the United States is deeply committed.” Continue reading ‘U.S. Mission to the United Nations: Remarks at a Roundtable Strategy Session on International LGBT Rights’

The History of LGBT Rights at the United Nations

For Human Rights Day, the OHCHR Free & Equal campaign released a new video that traces the evolution of the LGBT rights debate at the UN. It’s a short (2m50s) infographic video set to a sooundtrack provided by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, who were last week named as UN Equality Champions for their advocacy of LGBT equality.

If you are having trouble viewing the video you can click here to watch it on Youtube.

Human Rights: Advancing American Interests and Values

National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice addressed the participants of the Human Rights First 2013 Summit in Washington DC yesterday, in her speech Amb. Rice stressed that advancing democracy and respect for human rights is central to this administrations foreign policy. In her remarks Rice noted that LGBT human rights is an important component in advancing this agenda. Amb. Rice noted,

No one–no one–should face discrimination because of who they are or whom they love.  So, we are working to lead internationally, as we have domestically, on LGBT issues. This summer, President Obama championed equal treatment for LGBT persons while standing next to the President of Senegal, a country that is making progress on democratic reforms, but like too many nations, still places criminal restrictions on homosexuality.  President Obama met with LGBT and other civil society activists in St. Petersburg, Russia to discuss the restrictions they face in Russia.  At the UN Human Rights Council and in regional organizations, such as the Organization of American States and the Pan American Health Organization, the United States has fought for and won support for resolutions that recognize the rights and protect the safety and dignity of LGBT persons.  We created the Global Equality Fund to protect LGBT rights and those who defend them.

After the speech, Elisa Massimino, President and CEO of Human Rights First, said in a statement,

Today’s speech was a welcome affirmation of the Obama Administration’s commitment to protecting human rights at home and abroad. Ambassador Rice made a compelling case for why this effort is squarely in the national interest, arguing that short term trade-offs cannot alter our foundational values, and that respect for human rights is essential to our security.

Following her speech, Ambassador Rice met with human rights defenders from Bahrain, Egypt, Zimbabwe, and the international LGBT community.

Read the full speech here.

 

Human Rights Affirming Remarks During The Peace and Sport International Forum

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon’s statement during the 7th Peace and Sport International Forum in Monaco.

I am pleased to send greetings to all participants at the 7th Peace and Sport International Forum in Monaco. I especially thank H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco for his invaluable advocacy on this issue, and Mr. Joël Bouzou for his dedicated leadership as President and Founder of Peace and Sport.

As you meet, the United Nations General Assembly is set to pass its Olympic Truce Resolution ahead of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. Traditionally, this resolution expresses the collective reaffirmation of United Nations Member States of the contribution sport can make to our common goal of peace.

Earlier this year, the General Assembly declared 6 April as the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace. This is a clear recognition sport can contribute to human rights and development, erasing barriers and promoting solidarity around the world.  This new commemoration on the international calendar should further promote the value of sport as a tool for development and peace. I hope all of you will help organize celebrations of the Day.

In my travels around the world, I have seen first-hand the power of sport to unite people, raise awareness and resources, and inspire individuals, particularly youth. From makeshift village fields to big-city arenas sport reminds us of our common humanity.

That is why I must take this opportunity to issue a resounding denunciation of any form of discrimination in the world of sport. We must adamantly reject all attempts to divide people or advance intolerant views in any athletic competition. As we carry out our efforts to promote peace through sport, let us remember to uphold and defend universal human rights. When we recognize that all people are born free and equal, we can create a more peaceful world.

I thank you for your support and wish you great success.

Statement from Ambassador Elizabeth Cousens, U.S. Representative to ECOSOC, at a General Assembly meeting on Sport for Peace and Development

The United States is pleased to cosponsor the resolution entitled “Building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic ideal.” We especially want to draw attention to the language in the resolution “calling upon host countries to promote social inclusion without discrimination of any kind.” This is the first time that language of this kind appears in a resolution on the Olympic Truce, and it sends a powerful message highlighting the role that sport plays for all people. This phrase emphasizes the importance of inclusion and participation of all people in sporting activity, regardless of identity, including persons of different sexual orientations and gender identities.

In its recitation of the fundamental principles of Olympism, the Olympic Charter states “Every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.”

Many of the most inspirational moments in the Olympics have come through the ever-broadening participation of persons of various backgrounds in the Games, including: Native-American Jim Thorpe’s decathlon and pentathlon gold medals in the 1912 Olympics; the four gold medals African-American Jesse Owens won at the 1936 Berlin Olympics; the three 1960 gold medals of Wilma Rudolph, an African-American woman stricken with polio at age four whose childhood doctors feared she may never walk without wearing a leg brace; and the recent inspirational performance of South African Caster Semenya, who faced unprecedented challenges and unfair gender testing in 2009 only to return proudly and medal in the London Games, where her teammates selected her for the honor of serving as her nation’s flag bearer during the opening ceremony.

Part of what makes sport so important is that it promotes inclusion, bringing together people of different ages, races, religions, social status, disabilities, sexual orientation, and gender identity. Sport embraces all segments of society and is instrumental in empowering people of diverse backgrounds, while fostering tolerance and respect for all people, no matter what they look like, where they come from, where they worship, or whom they love.

Thank you, Mr. President.

Russian Civil Society Leaders Inspire

U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaulRepost From Ambassador Michael McFaul 

Despite a packed G-20 schedule filled with meetings on economic issues and the situation in Syria, President Obama also took the time while in St. Petersburg to meet with representatives of Russia’s civil society. He holds such meetings in nearly every country he visits, because, as he told these leaders, he believes that “a country’s strength ultimately comes from its people and that as important as government is — and laws — what makes a country democratic and effective in delivering prosperity and security and hope to people is when they’ve got an active, thriving civil society.” These engagements are an opportunity not only to hear candid views about the country in which these representatives live, but also about the United States.

The meeting in St. Petersburg was no exception. The President, National Security Advisor Susan Rice, and I met with a fascinating group of activists that included Boris Pustyntsev, Ivan Pavlov, Yevgeniya Chirikova, Yana Yakoleva, Dmitry Makarov, Igor Kochetkov, Yelena Milashina, Olga Lenkova, and Pavel Chikov. The group represented a broad cross-section of Russian NGOs and activists who work on issues such as human rights, the environment, media freedom, rights of business entrepreneurs, LGBT rights, and fighting corruption, racism, and discrimination.

Our colleagues gave President Obama a strong sense of the challenges facing civil society leaders in Russia today, especially new laws that place restrictions on foreign-funded NGOs and discriminate against the LGBT community. Like others around the world, the President has been following with particular concern the increased climate of intolerance and violence that have accompanied the new law affecting the LGBT community, and he had the chance to hear from two courageous LGBT activists from St. Petersburg who described the challenging environment for their work. Participants urged him to keep human rights, including LGBT rights, on his agenda; to correct mischaracterizations of American policy and laws (especially the false analogy between Russia’s “foreign agent” law and U.S. legislation on lobbying); to empower multilateral organizations to pressure the Russian government to meet its international commitments; and to stand up against discrimination and for freedom of assembly and expression.

The President learned not only about the situation in Russia but also how the Administration’s policies on the environment, whistle-blower protections, and Syria affect the work of civil society activists in Russia. President Obama acknowledged the complexities of balancing national security and individual rights on a variety of issues, but he also expressed faith in the power of American democratic institutions, including a free press, to provide the proper context for resolving specific issues and ultimately to make the American system more democratic. President Obama gave particular attention to the role of civil society in making governments more representative and accountable. He noted his own background as a community organizer, highlighting the significant and important role civil society plays in bettering the lives of ordinary people.

President Obama carefully took notes and responded to all of the questions raised during the meeting. He was clearly energized intellectually and inspired. A meeting planned for forty minutes turned into almost an hour-and-a-half interactive discussion. The President pledged to consider every concrete proposal and later tasked me to follow up on some practical ideas proposed by our roundtable participants.

In the car ride to the Air Force One after the event, the President commented on the articulate, passionate, and practical presentations these leaders had made, and we had a very wide-ranging discussion about civil society in Russia, civil society and human rights around the world, and democracy more generally. After two long days at the G-20, I was struck by how invigorated the President seemed after the discussion.

I thank our Russian participants for such a stimulating session and, like the President, applaud their courageous and important efforts in Russia.

Michael McFaul is Ambassador of the United States of America to the Russian Federation.


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