Tuesday, November 23, 2010

KPFA News: UN removes LGBT from list to be specially protected from unlawful execution

Link for mp3 audio: http://goo.gl/82ngM.

The UN General Assembly voted this week, to remove lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people from a list of vulnerable populations in need of equal protection from extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary execution.  This UN list of vulnerable populations has included sexual minorities for the past 10 years, though some nations have argued to remove them without winning a majority till this week.   KPFA's Ann Garrison has the story.

For the last 20 years, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission has responded to the violence that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people face all over the world.

I think the greatest injustice that LGBT people face is violence.  Violence is consistently used as a tool of intimidation.  In 80 countries around the world, same sex acts are criminalized in one way or another.  Tragically, today, it's far too common that LGBT people around the world are routinely and brutally attacked, tortured, and even murdered.   There's a death penalty issue in many countries, for just being gay or lesbian.  When someone is killed, in Uganda, because they've been imprisoned because of their sexual orientation, we have to respond to that, and we know how to respond to that.  We've been doing it for the last 20 years.  

The list of populations that the UN General Assembly resolution identifies as particularly vulnerable to extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary execution still includes national, ethnic, religious, or linguistic minorities, persons affected by terrorism, hostage taking or foreign occupation, refugees, internally displaced persons, migrants, street children, indigenous communities, human rights defenders, lawyers, journalists, demonstrators, targets of honor killings, and all killings committed for any discriminatory reason," BUT, the phrase "including sexual orientation" is no longer added to "any discriminatory reason," because of an amendment passed by nine votes.   Most Middle Eastern and African nations, and China and the Russian Federation, voted yeah.

The UN General Assembly votes every two years on a resolution condemning extrajudicial, summary, and arbitrary executions worldwide, which includes the list of those particularly vulnerable and in need of protection.

International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission Researcher Sara Perle says that though a majority vote settles the text of the resolution, and the list, the process is most of all about building consensus:

This amendment attempts to create an obstacle to building evidence that there is consensus in international human rights law, that, discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is never permissible.

Mauritius, an island nation off the East African Coast, was the only African nation that abstained from voting, though 8 African nations were not present to vote.

The Democratic Republic of Congo and neighboring East African nations of Rwanda, Uganda, and Burundi, all voted to remove "including sexual orientation," and all have proposed and/or existing laws criminalizing homosexuality.

Legislation pending in Uganda and Congo also includes provisions for expelling human rights defenders and NGOs by criminalizing defense of LGBT rights.  The International Lesbian and Gay Human Rights Commission's Sarah Perle says that it is therefore a threat to human rights throughout the region:

Countries like Uganda are seeking to further criminalize homosexuality and it's true that the Anti-Homosexuality Bill   Even more disturbing, attacks on

The UN Mapping Report on Human Rights Abuse in the Democratic Republic of Congo, leaked on August 26th and released on October 1st, documented the Rwandan, Ugandan, Burundian, and Congolese armies' guilt in war crimes, crimes against humanity, and massacres of Rwandan and Congolese Hutu civilians that an international criminal court would be expected to prosecute as genocide crime.

For Pacifica, KPFA Radio, I'm Ann Garrison.

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