Archive for December, 2012

Center for American Progress Releases White Paper on Gender Identity and Official Documents

SOURCE: Flickr/bryansblog

SOURCE: Flickr/bryansblog

ID Accurately Reflecting One’s Gender Identity Is a Human Right

This past week our nation joined others around the globe in celebrating International Human Rights Day, which marked the 64th anniversary of the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights, signed on December 10, 1948. This document declares that “inherent dignity” and “equal and inalienable rights” are the foundation for a just, peaceful, and free world. Decades later these principles continue to guide human rights policies established around the world, acting as a foundation for the evolving global understanding of what it means to acknowledge the equality of all people.

Transgender people, however, continue struggling to attain this innate right to dignified treatment and equality. As the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights has stated, “It is clear that many transgender persons do not fully enjoy their fundamental rights both at the level of legal guarantees and that of everyday life.” One way in which transgender people have struggled is in accessing identity documents that provide legal recognition of their gender identities. The failure of governments to acknowledge the gender identities of all people represents a rejection of the fundamental rights of self-determination, dignity, and freedom.

Moving forward as a global community, it is essential that all people—transgender or not—be given access to official documents that accurately reflect each individual’s gender identity and that respect the rights belonging to each of us as humans. Continue Reading and download the paper here.

Freedom House announces new program to help LGBTI people under threat

Repost from Freedom House.

As activists from around the world celebrate Human Rights Day, Freedom House is pleased to announce the launch of its newest global program: the Dignity for All: LGBTI Assistance Program, which provides emergency support for human rights defenders and civil society organizations working to advance the rights of LGBTI people who are under threat or attack for their work.

“Today, in more than 70 countries there are laws that treat lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people as criminals. These laws reinforce stigma and prejudice, and provide legal cover for serious human rights violations,” said Ariel Herrera, senior program officer for the Dignity for All program at Freedom House. “Dignity for All is able to help those who are victims of these pernicious laws or otherwise face serious threats to their personal security for their work in defending the rights of LGBTI people. Today, on Human Rights Day, we honor them. ”

The Dignity for All program joins Freedom House’s Lifeline: Embattled CSO Assistance Fund, an emergency assistance fund which supports embattled civil society organizations working on critical human rights issues. Together, these programs form a comprehensive rapid response mechanism that can provide emergency and preventive assistance to the most at-risk human rights defenders. The funds provide small emergency grants for temporary relocation, legal representation, prison visits, medical expenses, dependent support, security, equipment replacement, and other urgent expenses. Continue Reading

US Leadership to Advance Equality for LGBT People Abroad

US Leadership to Advance Equality for LGBT People AbroadFrom written by Samantha Power Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights at the National Security Council.

During Human Rights Week, we reaffirm our commitment to upholding human rights and human dignity at home and abroad, and we recognize the need to build a world in which everyone can pursue their dreams free from violence and discrimination.

Last week at the Human Rights First summit, I described how advancing the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people around the world is central to, not separate from, our comprehensive human rights agenda. With LGBT people facing death, violence, persecution, and discrimination around the world, the stakes could not be higher. Seventy-eight countries have laws that criminalize consensual same-sex acts between adults, resulting in unchecked human rights abuses and exploitation by police, security officials and private citizens. In at least 5 countries, the death penalty can be applied for being gay. Even where being LGBT is not a crime, violence by state and non-state actors alike often goes unpunished and LGBT communities live in fear and isolation.

As President Obama has said, “no one should be harmed because of who they are or who they love”. To ensure a comprehensive U.S. response to these threats, one year ago, President Obama issued the first ever Presidential Memorandum to advance the human rights of LGBT persons, requiring all U.S. agencies engaged abroad to “ensure that U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of LGBT persons,” and to report annually on their progress. Continue Reading

OpEd by Bishop Desmond Tutu on Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill

Bishop Desmond Tutu, Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality BillAs it appeared today in Uganda’s Daily Monitor newspaper

To Ugandan MPs: God does not discriminate among our family

Uganda’s Parliament is – unbelievably – on the verge of considering a new piece of legislation that would have the effect of legalising persecution, discrimination, hatred and prejudice in that country.

Should the Anti-Homosexuality Bill be voted into law, it will criminalise acts of love between certain categories of people, just as the apartheid government made intimate relations between black and white South Africans a punishable offence.

Members of the apartheid police force charged with the upkeep of “morality” would rush into the bedrooms of suspected offenders to gather evidence, such as warm bed sheets. Those found guilty were arrested, put on trial and punished. What awaits the people of Uganda?

One thing that Ugandan legislators should know is that God does not discriminate among members of our family. God does not say black is better than white, or tall is better than short, or football players are better than basketball players, or Christians are better than Muslims… or gay is better than straight. No. God says love one another; love your neighbour. God is for freedom, equality and love. Continue reading

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

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