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UN Agenda: Decriminalize Sexual Minorities

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On Dec. 18, 66 nations signed the UN Statement that affirms human rights for all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, and demands decriminalization of sexual minorities. Theocracies, dictatorships and the US refused to sign.

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On December 18th at the United Nations General Assembly, 66 of the 192 member nations signed a Statement affirming that universal application of the International Declaration of Human Rights should apply equally to every human being regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. The statement also calls for worldwide decriminalization of sexual orientation and gender identity, and it adopted the Organization of American States Resolution affirming these principles. The US refused to sign.

Behind the initiative is French activist Louis-Georges Tin, who founded IDAHO Â- the International Day Against Homophobia (May 17). Working closely with several non-governmental organizations, he compelled activists to lobby their own governments in support of decriminalization.

The Statement read by Argentina's Jorge Argà ello can be viewed in this UN video marked as "18 December 08 General Assembly: 70th and 71st plenary meeting - Morning session", starting at 2:25:11. Argà ello began by naming the 66 nations that support universal human rights, and expressed deep concern over human rights violations of sexual minorities. Two tenets of the 13-point Statement read:

"We call upon all States and relevant international human rights mechanisms to commit to promote and protect human rights of all persons, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity.

"We urge States to take all the necessary measures, in particular legislative or administrative, to ensure that sexual orientation or gender identity may under no circumstances be the basis for criminal penalties, in particular executions, arrests or detention."

Immediately following Argà ello's statement, Abdullah Hallak, the Syrian representative for a group comprised mostly of African and Muslim nations rejected the declaration, claiming that pedophilia would be legitimized. This 'slippery slope' argument is just as invalid as the claim that marijuana is a gateway drug, and serves the same purpose: fear-mongering. It is used to cover hatred of diversity.

A high level panel discussion on sexual orientation and gender identity hosted by France and the Netherlands followed that reading. (See video.) French Secretary of State for International Affairs and Human Rights, Rama Yade, said "At the beginning of this 21st century, how can we accept that people could be arrested, could be tortured, could be executed because of their sexual orientation?"Â

Rama Yade, French Secretary of State for International Affairs and Human Rights

The Netherlands Minister of Foreign Affairs, Maxime Verhagen, spoke powerfully in support of LGBT protection, acknowledging that some find the issue controversial or have objections based on personal convictions or cultural background. But he reminds them that:

"The Statement is not radical. After all, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights makes absolutely clear that everyone, every person, is entitled to the rights, freedoms ... without distinction of any kind. Human rights apply to all people in all places at all times. So, they apply to gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered people, too."

He urged nations to step up:

"There is a need for concerted, international action to promote the rights of vulnerable groups in our society that are susceptible to discrimination....Â

"Non-discrimination is the principle around which equal rights evolved ... sexual orientation is not valid grounds for discrimination, any more than race, color, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, or other status."

The UN High Commissioner on Human Rights, Navi Pillay, concurred:

"Those who are lesbian, gay or bisexual, those who are transgender, transsexual or intersex, are full and equal members of the human family and are entitled to be treated as such....Â

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In 2004, Rady Ananda joined the growing community of citizen journalists. Initially focused on elections, she investigated the 2004 Ohio election, organizing, training and leading several forays into counties to photograph the 2004 ballots. She officially served at three recounts, including the 2004 recount. She also organized and led the team that audited Franklin County Ohio's 2006 election, proving the number of voter signatures did not match official results. Her work appears in three books.

Her blogs also address religious, gender, sexual and racial equality, as well as environmental issues; and are sprinkled with book and film reviews on various topics. She spent most of her working life as a researcher or investigator for private lawyers, and five years as an editor.

She graduated from The Ohio State University's School of Agriculture in December 2003 with a B.S. in Natural Resources.

All material offered here is the property of Rady Ananda, copyright 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009. Permission is granted to repost, with proper attribution including the original link.

"In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." Tell the truth anyway.

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