Gay and Lesbian Blogs - Blog Catalog Blog Directory My Zimbio Blog Directory and Search engine
Lesbian Dating and Relationship Search

Sunday, December 28, 2008

US Opposes UN Gay Decriminalization Resolution

Last week it was announced that the United States was the only major western nation to refuse to sign a United Nations statement that would condemn discrimination and persecution based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

66 of the 192 U.N. members signed the nonbinding declaration, with the majority of the opposition coming from Islamic countries, Russia, China and the United States.

The UN declaration, co-sponsored by both France and the Netherlands, was signed by all 27 European Union members, as well as Japan, Australia, Mexico and three dozen other countries.

France's human rights minister, Rama Yade, said, "It's disappointing," when referring to the U.S. position, which she described as a contradiction to America's tradition as a defender of human rights.

According to some of the declaration's backers, U.S. officials expressed concern that certain parts of the declaration might be problematic in committing the federal government on matters that fall under state jurisdiction. In many states, landlords and private employers are still allowed to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and on the federal level, gays are not allowed to serve openly in the military.

Carolyn Vadino, a spokeswoman for the U.S. mission to the U.N., stressed that despite its unwillingness to sign, the United States condemned any human rights violations related to sexual orientation.

Gay rights activists nonetheless were angered by the U.S. position.

"It's an appalling stance to not join with other countries that are standing up and calling for decriminalization of homosexuality," said Paula Ettelbrick, executive director of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission.

She expressed hope that the U.S. position might change after President-elect Barack Obama takes office in January.

Also denouncing the U.S. stance was Richard Grenell, who until two months ago had been the chief spokesman for the U.S. mission to the U.N.

"It is ridiculous to suggest that there are legal reasons why we can't support this resolution _ common sense says we should be the leader in making sure other governments are granting more freedoms for their people, not less," said Grenell, who described himself as a gay Republican. "The U.S. lack of support on this issue only dims our once bright beacon of hope and freedom for those who are persecuted and oppressed."

More than 50 countries opposed to the declaration, including members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, issued a joint statement last week criticizing the initiative as an unwarranted attempt to give special prominence to gays and lesbians. The statement suggested that protecting sexual orientation could lead to "the social normalization and possibly the legalization of deplorable acts" such as pedophilia and incest.

The declaration also has been opposed by the Vatican, a stance which prompted a protest in Rome earlier this month.

Rev. Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman, stated that the Roman Catholic Church opposed the death penalty and other harsh repression of gays and lesbians, but expressed concern that the declaration would be used as pressure against those who believe marriage rights should not be extended to gays.

A new Vatican statement, issued last week, endorsed the call to end criminal penalties against gays, but said that overall the declaration "gives rise to uncertainty in the law and challenges existing human norms."

The European nations backing the declaration waged their campaign in conjunction with the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Maxime Verhagen, the Dutch foreign affairs minister, stated that countries that endorsed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 they had no right to carve out exceptions based on religion or culture that allowed discrimination against gays.

"Human rights apply to all people in all places at all times," he said. "I will not accept any excuse."

He acknowledged that the new declaration had only symbolic import, but said it marked the first time such a large number of nations had raised the cause of gay rights in the context of General Assembly proceedings.

"This statement aims to make debate commonplace," he said. "It is not meant to be a source of division, but to eliminate the taboo that surrounds the issue."

Although the declaration's backers were pleased that nations on six continents had signed it, there were only two from Asia and four from Africa.

No comments:


Blog Directory, Free online web directory, Search Engine Submission - AddMe