In a stunning development for worldwide LGBT rights, 85 nations signed a joint declaration last week affirming the rights of queers everywhere.
…express(es) concern at continued evidence in every region of acts of violence and related human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity. We call on states to take steps to end acts of violence, criminal sanctions and related human rights violations committed against individuals because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
In a joint statement, Western LGBT rights organizations hailed this historic development as one of the most significant recent steps towards basic human rights.
Today’s statement enjoyed the support of the largest group of countries to date on the topic of sexual orientation, gender identity and human rights.
It builds on a similar statement delivered by Norway at the Human Rights Council in 2006 (on behalf of 54 states) and a joint statement delivered by Argentina at the General Assembly in 2008 (on behalf of 66 states). It is clear that every time these issues are addressed there is measurable increase in state support.
The US ambassador to the UN Susan Rice was enthusiastic about the 85 countries’ statement, which was read aloud by Colombia’s delegation on March 22.
As the United States continues our important work in the Human Rights Council this week, we are proud to recognize a historic statement, signed by a record 85 nations, reaffirming the rights of all people – regardless of who they are and whom they love.
Of course, not every nation signed on. There are 192 member states in the organization, so this LGBT rights declaration was not even supported by half of the worldwide countries. Nevertheless, this is significant progress. The fact that these nations are willing to stand up and publicly recognize LGBT rights in such a visible worldwide organization is wonderful.
Nations that spoke out negatively were the usual suspects. The ambassador from Nigeria talked about how “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” are undefined, and noted that it takes a man and a woman to make a baby. Pakistan, speaking on behalf of the 57 Muslim majority nations in the UN, also did not support the statement.
Worst was Russia, who reportedly said that “these people” should not be granted “special rights.” Russia rejects violence against gays, but believes it has the right to limit behaviors in protection of public morality. Wow! That is ridiculous! We don’t believe in violence, but you gays are public immoral!
This is still an incredible accomplishment. The Obama administration has finally stepped up to the campaign promises made to LGBT voters, and praised the UN declaration:
Over the past months our diplomats have been engaged in frank, and at times difficult, conversations about the human rights of LGBT persons with governments from around the world. This [reaffirms] our joint commitment to end acts of violence and human rights abuses on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The president is proud of the work we have done to build international consensus on this critical issue and is committed to continuing our determined efforts to advance the human rights of all people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
What do you think about Russia, et al, not signing the declaration?
The nations that signed are Albania, Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Central African Republic, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mexico, Micronesia, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nauru, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Palau, Panama, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Rwanda, Samoa, San Marino, Serbia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Tuvalu, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States of America, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela, and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.