International Day for Tolerance

Today is International Day of Tolerance and the focus is on discussions about dealing with issues affecting groups and individuals alike.

In 1996, the UN General Assembly (by resolution 51/95) invited UN Member States to observe the International Day for Tolerance on 16 November, with activities directed towards both educational establishments and the wider public.

This action followed on the United Nations Year for Tolerance, 1995, proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in 1993 at the initiative of UNESCO, as outlined in the Declaration of Principles on Tolerance and Follow-up Plan of Action for the Year.

The 2005 World Summit Outcome document (A/RES/60/1) furthered the commitment of Heads of State and Government to advance human welfare, freedom and progress everywhere, as well as to encourage tolerance, respect, dialogue and cooperation among different cultures, civilizations and peoples.

Secretary-General’s Message for 2011

This is a period in which the old world is slowly but irreversibly changing and the contours of a new one are just beginning to take shape. Traditional institutions are being challenged. Budgets are being squeezed. Families are being stressed. All of this flux and churning creates enormous anxiety.At times of change, we must stay true to the ideals and principles that are at the heart of the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Among those core values is tolerance. Our practice of tolerance must mean more than peaceful coexistence, crucial as that is. It must be an active understanding fostered through dialogue and positive engagement with others.This is especially critical in combating the discrimination that causes so much divisiveness, destruction and death. We all have a responsibility to protect those vulnerable to discrimination, whether based on race, religion, nationality, language, gender, sexual orientation or other factors. Practicing tolerance can serve as the antidote to prejudice and hatred.UNESCO plays a special role in fostering active tolerance by promoting quality education for all girls and boys; advancing a free and pluralistic media, including on the Internet; and protecting cultural heritage and nurturing respect for cultural diversity.

As we face the complex and global challenges of our times, the United Nations will continue to work for mutual understanding among peoples and countries, a bedrock need in an interconnected world. As we mark this international day, let us remember that active tolerance begins with each of us, every day.

Irina Bokova

Message from the President of the 66th Session of the General Assembly, His Excellency, Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser

Fifteen years have passed since the United Nations General Assembly invited Member States to observe the International Day for Tolerance on 16 November.

Today, as our world goes through a period of unprecedented transition, it is more pressing than ever that we foster tolerance among the world’s populations.

In this time of change, we remind ourselves that knowledge, openness, communication, freedom of expression and freedom of thought, conscience and belief are essential elements for peace, respect and appreciation of diversity.

It is gratifying to note that there is growing acknowledgement of the need for tolerance and dialogue among different cultures and groups of people. However, we are also witnessing the continuation, and in some cases an increase, of discrimination, extremism and radicalism.

The complexities and challenges of today’s world call for enhanced respect, understanding and appreciation between individuals, families and communities. Integral to this approach are attitudes of openness, mutual listening and solidarity. In this respect, schools, universities, the home and the workplace are all important places for further promoting tolerance. Greater efforts need to be made, in particular, to teach children about tolerance and human rights, about diversity and other cultures, and about other ways of life. Peace education needs to be a part of the teaching in all educational institutions. The media also has an important, constructive role to play in facilitating free and open dialogue.

On this International Day, I encourage Member States to reaffirm their commitment to promoting the universal human rights and fundamental freedoms of their peoples by supporting activities that build tolerance, including those directed towards educational establishments and the wider public. In doing so, we will enrich our oneness and our diversity, and thereby help to build a peaceful world for all.

Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser

I decided to republish in part an old post I did in October 2009 as it captures most of the present day issues affecting us chief among them is the call for the buggery law to be repealed and a threat from overseas aid country the UK to withdraw said aid if we commonwealth countries do not adjust.

Promoting homosexuality? No, its about freedom of choice, privacy & tolerance

In Jamaica today many of the anti gay lobby flex their muscles every now and again by grabbing a Bible or the law books and beating us over the head damming us to hell already and saying gays are trying to promote homosexuality as if it’s some contagious disease that you get on touch or contact and reminding us buggery is illegal. Some including lawyers and journalists also make the mistake to say homosexuality is illegal when it is not, morality cannot be legislated and this is not a theocracy though by the looks of it we are slowly getting there. It is buggery, the physical act of anal penetration that the law is concerned with not the other factors and stereotypes of male homosexuality.

They also seem to forget that heterosexuals also practice anal sex when presenting their arguments. Intertwined and interwoven in all of that is the hypocrisy and classism where many of these same “moralists” mainly from middle and upper class Jamaica who speak out in public on airwaves and in print through sometimes hateful letters to the respective editors and or editorials have gay friends in their social circles but of course they are rich and educated so those are spared the insults, innuendo and rage that is presented otherwise.

This same anti gay lobby which includes learned professionals, Members of Parliament, legal and religious luminaries would much prefer if we kept our “filth” as MP Ernest Smith calls it to ourselves as he said in a recent interview presented on a Worldfocus report about stigma on homosexuals in Jamaica and HIV. The gay haters pontificate with great pomp and ceremony using the “majority” opinion that battyman fi dead (gays are to die) or at least we must not be seen or heard.

Yet while all this is going on the proposed Charter of Rights has been stalling in the Senate and in the house we are then told that consensual buggery is also illegal in the recently updated Sexual Offences Bill get the full PDF version here so the Charter when I last saw it speaks to the right to privacy and the whole question of the domain or threshold of ones home or owned premises is sacred is meaningless then. If I as an adult choose to have sex with another man and the state really wants to get me, whether consensual or not I can be prosecuted even by breaking down my door without a warrant I guess to lock me up on a suspicion simply because I am making love to a man. I don’t think we as gays realise how real this is. Oral sex is also covered in the new Bill as well but they have cleverly make it gender neutral along with buggery I think this is so as to avoid the criticism that gays were specially targeted in designing the law.

Why guarantee a right to privacy and then challenge it with pieces of legislation that impedes on that right so profoundly? it doesn’t make sense or am I wrong here?

Tolerance:
We seem to think tolerance means that someone gays are gonna get up and try to homosexualise everyone, as far as I am concerned you are either gay, straight, bisexual or any other variant of sexuality that identifies you it depends on if one chooses to act on it. Why can’t we all just get along? we readily watch North American and Jamaican gay themed movies, plays and listen to artists Elton John, Rupaul and George Michael who ironically Elton and George’s music is popular here played even by the homophobic of DJs on radio and in the dancehall & mixtapes sometimes yet we get worked up over homosexuals or the lifestyles.

I think we have the capacity to co exist with ease if we only try or want to. The stereotypical images of gays are often made into comedy although sometimes it teeters on homophobia with an aire of cynicism and scorn. Respecting people’s rights and freedoms from both ends must become the benchmark where we move from, all people can’t be the same and people must be free to choose as long as it does not impede greatly on another individual and the nation in general.

here is further audio commentary on the whole issue as I see them:

International Day for Tolerance 16.11.11 my concerns of our state

Also see:  Stem the culture of intolerance (Gleaner letter) from sister blog on GLBTQ Jamaica on blogger 

Peace and tolerance

H

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Author: GLBTQ Jamaica Moderator

Activist and concerned gay man in Jamaica with over 19 years experience in advocacy and HIV/AIDS prevention work, LGBT DJ since 1996.

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