Norway co-hosts debate on rights of sexual minorities

12/9/2009 // Human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity was the topic of a panel debate that Norway organized with the UN Permanent Missions of Argentina, Brazil, Croatia, France and the Netherlands on Thursday 10 December. The event was especially timely as several countries are looking to tighten legislation that criminalizes lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender people.

The event was held in collaboration with a coalition of non-governmental organisations defending the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. The panellists explored grave and extreme human rights violations and discrimination occurring on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.  Such violations include attacks on the security of LGBT people, extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, the practice of torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, and arbitrary arrest or detention.

Norway emphasizes the human rights of all people regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity. This debate is especially relevant in light of recent proposals to ban and punish homosexual activity in some countries, including the “Anti-Homosexuality Bill’ that was recently introduced in Uganda’s parliament. According to the bill so-called ‘repeat offenders’ could face the death penalty and those who fail to report within 24 hours anyone they know who is lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, or who supports their human rights, risk three years in jail.

The panel discussion, which featured speakers from various regions of the world, was an effort to normalise the debate on LGBT rights at the United Nations.

The panelists were:

  • Vivek Divan, consultant, UNDP
  • Rev. Kapya Kaoma, project director, Political Research Associates
  • Indyra Mendoza, director, Cattrachas
  • Victor Mukasa, program associate, International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission
  • Sass Rogando Sasot, activist

The panel was moderated by Mr. Hans Ytterberg, Director-General with the Swedish Ministry of Integration and Gender Equality.

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