UPDATE 7/20/10:Statement by the President on UN Accreditation of the ILGHRC
I welcome this important step forward for human rights, as the International Lesbian and Gay Human Rights Commission (ILGHRC) will take its rightful seat at the table of the United Nations. The UN was founded on the premise that only through mutual respect, diversity, and dialogue can the international community effectively pursue justice and equality. Today, with the more full inclusion of the International Lesbian and Gay Human Rights Commission, the United Nations is closer to the ideals on which it was founded, and to values of inclusion and equality to which the United States is deeply committed.
Last month, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) was set to become the first LGBT non-governmental organization (NGO) of its scope to be admitted into the United Nations under “consultative status”. However, the effort was blocked by group of mostly African nations led by Egypt and probably will not be reconsidered for another year.
The ECOSOC (the UN’s Economic and Social Council) is the body that decides who’s in and who’s out as far as which NGOs can participate in UN policy discussions. Only a handful of member nations are poised on this panel and it has become something of a mafia for homophobic countries. Out of the 19 member nations which comprise the NGO Panel of ECOSOC, 13 of them are considered underdeveloped and undereducated nations which ground themselves in fanatical adherence to religion. 3,287 NGOs have been approved by the council and none of them are international LGBT organizations.
However, many of the member nations in the UN are not waiting on the NGO Panel of ECOSOC to become proponents of gay rights in the UN through official channels. Recent news of the grisly beheading of a gay rights leader in Uganda could fuel more members to jump on board with gay-inclusive directives. Obvious human rights abuses in anti-gay member nations are humiliating to the UN because they stand in contrast to the very reason that United Nations was formed to begin with.
The UN was formed in 1945 with the ultimate goal of preventing the kind of genocide we saw in World War II. But certain key member nations in the UN have apparently forgotten that the genocide of WWII was so atrocious, partly because well over 100,000 homosexuals were imprisoned in concentration camps, castrated or killed by the Nazi regime.
These member nations in the UN apparently tolerate the same conduct as Hitler’s Europe within their own borders regardless of the clear threat it poses to the rest of the world – the threat of a second holocaust. Uganda, Egypt, Qatar and Pakistan have all been discovered to have abused the human rights of gays and lesbians through official government channels and are still charged with deciding the direction of the United Nations on human rights issues to varying degrees.
“This act of simple discrimination runs contrary to the principles of the U.N., of ECOSOC and of the NGO Committee,” was the verdict from Britain’s delegation in response to the shut-out of the IGLHRC. The United States and Latin America followed suit in their expression of regret. But this month, another faction of the UN stepped up its language regarding the human rights of gays and it’s already making front page headlines all over the world.
Just last week, in Geneva, UNAIDS and the Global Fund announced their intention to roll out their “Sexual Orientation and Gender Equality Strategy”. Also revealed were Human Rights declarations specifically naming “men who have sex with men (MSMs)” and Transgender persons. It was also reported that in May 2009, the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) Regional Directors Group, representing ten distinct UN agencies, honored the International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO) by issuing a joint call to eliminate homophobia.
It was decided by UNAIDS that proper treatment and prevention of HIV cannot exist in places where sexuality is persecuted as a crime because it creates a climate of fear in which people do not get tested or seek life-saving treatment. In places where such a climate exists, like Uganda, misinformation, blame and paranoia are deadly - even though HIV is largely a heterosexual disease in the Republic.
There were resolutions in LAC, UNDP and UNAIDS to make improvements in recognizing the Human Rights of women, gays, lesbians, transgender persons, sex-workers, drug users, and prisoners over the last few months. Human rights language is being used increasingly in reference to LGBTs via UNAIDS and UNDP reports. This represents a definite turning point for the United Nations whereas no general resolution has yet been made to recognize the fundamental human rights of LGBT persons, the language is creeping in at every corner and that day is fast approaching.