Saturday, 12 December 2009

United Nations: Landmark Meeting Denounces Rights Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity

IGLHRC: For Immediate Release: (New York, December 11) - A United Nations General Assembly panel that met this week broke new ground and helped build new momentum for ending human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity, a coalition of sponsoring nongovernmental organizations said today.

The meeting included discussion of discriminatory and draconian "anti-homosexuality" legislation currently before the Ugandan parliament, and of the role of American religious groups in promoting repression across Africa. In a groundbreaking move, a representative of the Holy See in the audience read a statement strongly condemning the criminalisation of homosexual conduct.

The panel, held yesterday on the 61st anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, featured speakers from Honduras, India, the Philippines, and Zambia, as well as Uganda, where the proposed "anti-homosexuality law" shows the steady threat of government repression.

Sweden organised the panel in coalition with Argentina, Brazil, Croatia, France, the Netherlands, and Norway. It was sponsored by a group of six nongovernmental organizations that defend the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. The audience of 200 people included delegates from over 50 nations.

Ugandan lawmakers are currently debating the "anti-homosexuality" bill. While there were reports that the death-penalty provisions might be stripped from the bill, other punishments would remain that would drive many Ugandans underground or out of the country, participants said.

Speaking on the panel, Victor Mukasa, co-founder of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) and program associate for the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLRHC), described how he was forced to leave Uganda following police brutality and raids on his home. He said that Uganda's "anti-homosexuality" bill reflects a pattern of state-sponsored homophobia spreading across the African continent.

"Lack of security, arbitrary arrests and detentions, violence, and killings of LGBT people have become the order of the day in Africa," said Mukasa. "Nothing can change as long as LGBT people live in fear for their safety when they claim their basic human rights."

The statement from the Holy See said it "opposes all forms of violence and unjust discrimination against homosexual persons, including discriminatory penal legislation which undermines the inherent dignity of the human person.…[T]he murder and abuse of homosexual persons are to be confronted on all levels, especially when such violence is perpetrated by the State."

Also at the panel discussion, the Reverend Kapya Kaoma, an Anglican priest from Zambia who is project director for Political Research Associates (PRA) in Massachusetts, presented the group's new report, Globalising the Culture Wars: U.S. Conservatives, African Churches, and Homophobia.

Kaoma said that many anti-LGBT attitudes across Africa are fueled by US groups actively exporting homophobia. He called on US religious figures who have been promoting hatred and fear of homosexuality in Africa to denounce the Uganda bill unequivocally, and support the human rights of all people regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Citing their moral responsibility to prevent violence, he also urged them to make such declarations in Africa, not just before US audiences.

Other panelists highlighted governments' complicity in prejudice and violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Indyra Mendoza Aguilar, coordinator of the L├ęsbica Feminista Cattrachas network in Honduras said that an atmosphere of impunity since the June coup in Honduras has meant spreading violence against already marginalized people.

"In Honduras, as in many countries, the state turns a blind eye to violence against our communities," said Mendoza Aguilar. "Today we issue a call for reforming our societies, free of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, free of impunity."

Vivek Divan, an Indian attorney and member of the team that led a successful legal challenge to India's colonial-era sodomy law, described the provision's insidious effects, promoting inequality, excusing violence, and permitting state intrusion into private lives. The Delhi High Court overturned the law this year in a landmark decision affirming diversity as a core value of the Indian state.

Speakers also stressed how torture, killings, and other grave abuses target people not just because of their sexualities, but because they look, dress, or act in ways that defy deeply rooted patriarchal norms for expressing masculinity and femininity.

"Now is the time to realise that diversity does not diminish our humanity," said Sass Sasot, co-founder of the Society of Transsexual Women of the Philippines (STRAP). "You want to be born, to live, and die with dignity - so do we! You want to live with authenticity - so do we!"


Mama Shujaa said...

Excellent. A good step forward for all towards living "with authenticity."

Anengiyefa said...

Absolutely, Mama Shujaa. I can only think of it as being shallow and lacking in meaning, if a person's life isn't "authentic"

Korede said...

The is one thing to criminalise homosexuality and it is a whole different thing to engage in unlawful violent act towards homosexuals. The UN if it wants to be respected needs to stop linking this two propangadishly. The latter is a crime that should be punished under law, the former is not.

Anengiyefa said...

@Korede, I think what this is about is Human Rights, not the legal status of homosexuality.

That said, it remains the case that the criminalisation of homosexuality has been accepted by much of the world as the entrenchment in the law of discriminatory attitudes towards same-gender loving people and that such repressive laws are not justified and should have no place in the legal system of any country today.

Korede said...

Accepted by much of the world?

No, I don't think so. Probably accepted by much of the Western world, not much of the world. Majority of the world still disagree with homosexuality.

That said, the point I made earlier is that no one has the right to conduct violence against another, irrespective of what they are or what the perpetrator thinks they. Even if the person is a paedophile but has not conducted an act that is against the law, no one has a right to act violently towards them. All perpetrators of such acts of violence need to be arrested and dealt with under the law. It is a complete human rights issue that the UN does not have to place under a homosexuality legality issue.

Anengiyefa said...

Excuse me Korede, what do you mean by "disagree" and "majority of the world"? Africa and the Islamic countries?

The fact of the matter is that the most backward places on the Earth are the ones that hate homosexuality the most! And it is not surprising then that they continue to be backward (and poor), since they seem incapable of finding new solutions to old problems. They cling to stasis, while convincing themselves that in their 'pious' obstinacy, they are somehow morally superior to those who they perceive as being decadent, when in fact it is those supposedly decadent parts of the world that have successfully developed.

Backward societies use this 'moral superiority' argument, (unfounded though it is), almost as an excuse for failing to develop as much of the rest of the world has done and continue to do.

Your concern about violence is understood, but it is also the case that laws that violate the human rights of specific groups of people, have no place in the 21st Century. Mankind has acquired far too much knowledge over the millennia and has become far too enlightened for whole countries to continue to apply laws that cannot be justified by rationality.

Anengiyefa said...

Moreover, you do not have to 'agree' with homosexuality or approve of homosexual behaviour in order to accept that homosexual men and women have the right to be who they are and live their lives as they ought to. There are many people who "disagree" with homosexuality in the countries of the world where same sex relations have been decriminalised. The right to the pursuit of happiness is a right to which all human beings are entitled. Where there are laws in existence that prevent individuals from the pursuit of happiness, such laws are repressive and violate the rights of those individuals.

When homosexual relations between consenting adults occur, there are no victims, and no harm is done to society. Guaranteeing the right of these individuals to live their lives happily while being protected from discrimination makes for a wholesome and altogether healthier society.

Korede said...

Well, I don't think the Western world accounts for even 40% of the world, talkless of over 50%. Furthrmore, a large fraction of their population merely tolerate homosexuality or feel they cannot do much about it due to constant propaganda and attack to accept it by their powerful media. They tolerate but do not accept it. In the rest of the world it is safe to say over 80% do not accept or tolerate homosexuality. So my point stands to say majority (by individual headcount or by nation bundling) do not accept homosexuality.

Nations make laws based on a wide varieties of this. Even the 'forward' West disapprove of polygamy and based on their disgust have decided to ban it and arrest and prevent it from occurring even though no one is harmed. So who are they to condemn?

Anengiyefa said...

Mr Korede, if your intention is to express your disapproval of homosexuality, it might well be sensible to come clean and refrain from couching your arguments in bad logic and erroneous facts. I see you were sufficiently fascinated my my postings on Nairaland made more than a year ago, for you to click on the link to my blog. And don't get me wrong, you are welcome to do that.

Coming to your comment, India decriminalised homosexual relations last year, a country of 1 billion people. India is not a part of the West, neither is Brazil nor South Africa nor Argentina. Get real. We Africans insist on holding on to myths and half-truths that we have imbibed over the years and resort to hiding our heads in the sand when the facts are stated.

It is immaterial what you ar any other person thinks. There are lots of people who don't like black people, but that does not mean that it should be illegal to be black! A person's sexual orientation is a part of who he is. You don't have to approve of gay people and as I stated clearly earlier, even in the UK where you live, there are many who detest homosexuals. But that notwithstanding, nobody should have the right to discriminate against them purely out of their own prejudice or out of a lack of knowledge and understanding of what homosexuality is.

And this I think is what that United Nations meeting was denouncing, the entrenchment in the law of people's prejudices and the rights abuses that arise there from.

Anengiyefa said...

Dear Mr Korede,

Unfortunately I am not blessed with the patience needed to argue with those who choose to wallow in ignorance. Also, I will not tolerate rude comments on my blog. Perhaps it would be helpful to you if you would do some studying in order to improve your thinking and bring it up to the standard that is expected in the 21st Century.

I have deleted your comment and would wish that you do not come here again to post hateful comments. There are enough venues at which you can do that. You may even consider starting your own anti-homosexuality blog. Thank you and goodbye.

Blog Owner.