Historic Day for Sexual Minorities in the UN

1/12/2009 // Norway was one of 66 countries behind a statement on Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. It is the first time a statement on this topic is read to the UN General Assembly.

The statement reaffirms the universal application of human rights for all, without distinction or discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

The 66 counties from all regions 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, arrest or detention.

Two years ago Norway read a statement on rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) in the Human Right Council in Geneva. This years statement is more ambitious, and fifteen new countries is behind this year’s statement.

These are Bolivia, Cape Verde, The Central African Republic, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, Gabon, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Japan, Sao Tome and Principe, Nepal, Venezuela, Panama and Paraguay. At the same time three countries have withdrawn their support (US, South Korea and Peru). This shows that the process is going in the right direction, but that this work is still controversial.
In connection with the reading of the statement the Norwegian UN-Mission hosted a International Panel Discussion to mark the UN General Assembly statement on Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity on Wednesday.
The Norwegian Ambassador Morten Wetland opened the conference with reminding how important the statement is.
– Without the statement it would be harder to convince those who do not want to discuss LGBT issues at all that they are facing a growing surge of opinion that we must face these issues head-on, said Wetland. 

One of the speakers was Scott Long, Director of Lesbian, Gay and Transgender Rights Program at Human Rights Watch. He said that a new report from Human Rights Watch showed that more than half of the world’s remaining “sodomy” laws – criminalising consensual homosexual conduct – are relics of British colonial rule and do not necessarily reflect indigenous cultures, as is commonly argued.

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