For Immediate Release
(New York, December 11, 2008) –
“In 1948 the world’s nations set forth the promise of human rights, but six decades later, the promise is unfulfilled for many,” said Linda Baumann of Namibia, a board member of Pan Africa ILGA, a coalition of over 60 African lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) groups. “The unprecedented African support for this statement sends a message that abuses against LGBT people are unacceptable anywhere, ever.”
The statement is non-binding, and reaffirms existing protections for human rights in international law. It builds on a previous joint statement supported by 54 countries, which Norway delivered at the UN Human Rights Council in 2006.
The draft statement condemns violence, harassment, discrimination, exclusion, stigmatization, and prejudice based on sexual orientation and gender identity. It also condemns killings and executions, torture, arbitrary arrest, and deprivation of economic, social, and cultural rights on those grounds.
“Today, dozens of countries still criminalize consensual homosexual conduct, laws that are often relics of colonial rule,” said Grace Poore of Malaysia, who works with the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission. “This statement shows a growing global consensus that such abusive laws have outlived their time.”
The statement also builds on a long record of UN action to defend the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. In its 1994 decision in Toonen v. Australia, the UN Human Rights Committee – the body that interprets the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), one of the UN’s core human rights treaties – held that human rights law prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation. Since then, the United Nations’ human rights mechanisms have condemned violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity, including killings, torture, rape, violence, disappearances, and discrimination in many areas of life. UN treaty bodies have called on states to end discrimination in law and policy.
“Latin American governments are helping lead the way as champions of equality and supporters of this statement,” said Gloria Careaga Perez of Mexico, co-secretary general of ILGA. “Today a global movement supports the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, and those voices will not be denied.”
“It is a great achievement that this initiative has made it to the level of the General Assembly,” said Louis-Georges Tin of France, president of the International Committee for IDAHO (International Day against Homophobia), a network of activists and groups campaigning for decriminalization of homosexual conduct. “It shows our common struggles are successful and should be reinforced.”
The coalition of international human rights organizations that issued this statement include: Amnesty International; ARC International; Center for Women’s Global Leadership; COC Netherlands; Global Rights; Human Rights Watch; IDAHO Committee; International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC); International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Association (ILGA); and Public Services International.
In New York for Human Rights Watch, Scott Long (English): +1-212-216-1297; or +1-646-641-5655; or email@example.com
In London for Amnesty International, Kate Sheill (English: +44-20-7413-5748; or firstname.lastname@example.org
In Halifax, for ARC International, Kim Vance (English, French): +1-902-488-6404
In Geneva for ARC International, John Fisher (English, French): +41-79-508-3968; or email@example.com
In Amsterdam for COC Netherlands, Bjorn van Roozendall (Dutch, English): +31-6-22-55-83-00; or firstname.lastname@example.org
In Washington for Global Rights, Stefano Fabeni (English, Italian, Spanish): +1 202-741-5049; or email@example.com
In New York for IGLHRC, Hossein Alizadeh (English, Persian): +1-212-430-6016; or firstname.lastname@example.org
In Brussels for ILGA, Stephen Barris (English, French, Spanish): +32-2-502-2471; ormailto:email@example.com; or in New York, +39 33-5-606-7158, or firstname.lastname@example.org
The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) is a leading human rights organization solely devoted to improving the rights of people around the world who are targeted for imprisonment, abuse or death because of their sexuality, gender identity or HIV/AIDS status. IGLHRC addresses human rights violations by partnering with and supporting activists in countries around the world, monitoring and documenting human rights abuses, engaging offending governments, and educating international human rights officials. A non-profit, non-governmental organization, IGLHRC is based in New York, with offices in Cape Town and Buenos Aires. Visit http://www.iglhrc.org/ for more information