Declaration pushed at UN for inclusive universal human rights

(10 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

Last week was the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Born from the horrors of WWII,  all the members of the UN stood together to clearly define basic human rights. Through the years it has become the widely accepted as the universal agreement for human rights and is the most translated document in the world, found 360 different languages.

The UDHR is not a binding treaty, however it does enumerate human rights as stipulated in the UN Charter, which is binding on all UN members and has become an important part of international law. It also stands as the foundation for two additional UN Pacts which are binding, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights.

Unfortunately all human beings hasn’t been all inclusive. Follow me below the fold for this stunning and historic move by members of the United Nations.

Sexual orientation or gender identity have never been specifically spelled out or included in the declaration. Yesterday, led by France and the Netherlands, representatives from 66 countries signed a declaration calling for the decriminalization of homosexuality. The declaration was signed by  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 statement 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. 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.” They stated they are “deeply concerned by violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms based on sexual orientation or gender identity,” and said that “violence, harassment, discrimination, exclusion, stigmatization and prejudice are directed against persons in all countries in the world because of sexual orientation or gender identity.”

The statement condemned killings, torture, arbitrary arrest, and “deprivation of economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to health.” The participating countries urged all nations to “promote and protect human rights of all persons, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity,” and to end all criminal penalties against people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen

Verhagen: Human Rights apply to all people, in all places, at all times, so there can be no excuse for the persecution, the discrimination or violation of human rights of gay, lesbian and transgender people. And with today’s statement, this is no longer a taboo within the UN.

The US has yet to back the declaration but it is hoped with President Obama taking office this will change. Several Arab countries, China, Russia and the Vatican also oppose the declaration.  Of the 192 member nations 77 have oppressive laws regarding homosexuality.

The world is changing. I call your Rick Warren and raise you 66 nations who not only believe you are equal, but are willing to fight for your right to live and be happy and productive. Sometimes we lose sight of the larger picture, the world outside of our politics. The declaration is historic and you can believe they will find enough supporters to have it debated in front of the General Assembly. The Civil Rights movement of the 60s’ succeeded because there were enough good people who thru experience or observation recognized the wrongness of what was happening around them. It is no different with LGBT rights.  


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  1. Cross posted at KOS

    • Edger on December 20, 2008 at 4:18 am

    It’s like brains are coming back into style. 🙂

  2. …are incomprehensible.  And I mean that literally.  Get a load of this gibberish from the Bush administration explaining their opposition to the resolution:

    The United States couched its opposition in legal technicalities. “We are opposed to any discrimination, legally or politically,” said Alejandro D. Wolff, the deputy U.S. ambassador. “But the nature of our federal system prevents us from undertaking commitments and engagements where federal authorities don’t have jurisdiction.”

    So now gay rights are a jurisdictional problem?  

  3. …instead of at the orange, where the window has sort of closed…

    A few commenters on the orange were wondering what the value of this is, when it is symbolic and general.  But just a decade or so ago, even places like Amnesty weren’t sure that queer rights and human rights belonged on the same docket.  Simply mooting this forward puts queer rights squarely in that frame, as basic and political, rather than something akin to goat buggery.

    So long as it goes forward (and it did) I’m not terribly disappointed to see the US refuse to ratify.  To do so would be a whitewash and a vast hypocrisy (rather like Mexico’s in this case).  In this country, most places, you can still put someone on the street, take away their job, or legally discriminate if they are too queer for yah.  My most liberal and optimistic hopes for the Obama administration are along the lines of a non-inclusive ENDA; statutory human rights for the truly queer have the same chance as the ice cubes in Virgil’s G&T.  At some level, I suspect that places with shit records on queer rights (like Poland or Mexico) signing on simply provides cover for richer places to deport those making human rights claims for asylum.  But then, I’m a bit of a cynic.  

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