Friday, December 19, 2008
Victory and Shame in the Same Package
In a powerful victory for the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 66 nations at the UN General Assembly yesterday supported a groundbreaking statement confirming that international human rights protections include sexual orientation and gender identity. It is the first time that a statement condemning rights abuses against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people has been presented in the General Assembly. The 66 countries reaffirmed "the principle of non-discrimination, which requires that human rights apply equally to every human being regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity."
Shamefully, the United States, alone among Western nations, refused to sign the declaration presented at the United Nations on Thursday, December 18, 2008 citing “legal review” was necessary. There was also broad opposition from Muslim nations including members of the Organization of Islamic Conference who issued a joint statement that protecting sexual orientation could lead to “social normalization and possibly the legalization of deplorable acts” such as pedophilia and incest. Not surprisingly, the declaration has also been opposed by the Vatican which prompted a protest earlier this month.
The statement, however, drew unprecedented support from five continents, including six African nations. Argentina read the statement before the General Assembly. A cross-regional group of states coordinated the drafting of the statement, also including Brazil, Croatia, France, Gabon, Japan, the Netherlands, and Norway. Nations backing the declaration waged their campaign in conjunction with the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Photo: Ed Decker and Paula Ettelbrick of International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission.