Monday, December 22, 2008

Public Statement on the United States’ Failure to Endorse UN Statement on Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

via APLA

66 Nations Sign on to Historic Document

The United States was alone among major Western nations Thursday (December 18, 2008) in refusing to sign onto a United Nations declaration affirming the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people worldwide. In total, 66 of the 192 member countries of the UN stood up for LGBT rights in the UN General Assembly’s first-ever initiative to expressly address human rights as they apply to sexual orientation and gender identity.

The statement reaffirms the universality of human rights, condemns violence and human rights abuses based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and calls upon states to hold perpetrators accountable for any violations of these grounds. While non-binding, the statement nonetheless embodies a crucial step toward global recognition of LGBT dignity and rights and will serve as a critical advocacy tool in the struggle to decriminalize homosexuality. The full text of the non-binding document, written in French (pages 1-2), Spanish (pages 3-4) and English (pages 5-6), can be read here.

U.S. activists spoke out strongly against the U.S. position. Paula Ettelbrick, executive director of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission called it "an appalling stance — to not join with other countries that are standing up and calling for decriminalization of homosexuality."

Insiders say U.S. opposition to the statement was mired in debate regarding potentially problematic parts of the declaration, such as committing the federal government on matters that fall under state jurisdiction. In some states, for instance, landlords are allowed to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. Nonetheless, the former chief spokesman for the U.S. mission to the U.N., Richard Grenell, called the suggested legal considerations “ridiculous.”

"The U.S.’s lack of support on this issue only dims our once bright beacon of hope and freedom for those who are persecuted and oppressed," said the self-described gay Republican. Read the entirety of the Associated Press article here.

According to a press release from the International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), the signatory nations are:

Albania, Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, France, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guinea-Bissau, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Montenegro, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Timor-Leste, United Kingdom, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

The year 2008 marks sixty years since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

See previous IRMA post on this topic.

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