Action Alert: UN Joint Statement on Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity

Kentucky Equality Federation fights for LGBT rights throughout the Commonwealth; we also fight globally as the lead organization representing the International Lesbian & Gay Association in the U.S. Midwest. We need your help......

In mid-December 2008, States from every region of the world will join together to deliver a statement recognizing human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity at the United Nations General Assembly.

December 2008 marks the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. On this historic occasion, the joint statement will affirm that human rights truly are the birthright of all human beings, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

We want the United Nations to add sexual orientation and gender identity as a protected class; as such, all member states would be required to follow it!

Initiated by the French Republic, the joint statement is being coordinated by a cross-regional core group of States, including representatives from all 5 United Nations regions (Argentine Republic, Federative Republic of Brazil, Croatia, French Republic, Gabon, Japan (formerly Empire of Japan), the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Kingdom of Norway and Ukraine).

These States are seeking to send a powerful message by delivering the statement on behalf of as many States from different regions as possible. It has already attracted over 50 signatories. This initiative builds upon a previous joint statement delivered in 2006 at the United Nations Human Rights Council by the Kingdom of Norway on behalf of 54 UN States.

With your help, we would like to encourage as many countries as possible to join the statement, making it the largest-ever UN statement addressing human rights based on sexual orientation and gender identity. It will also be the first to be delivered at the UN General Assembly, the United Nations’s highest political body.

We welcome the adoption of Resolution AG/RES. 2435 (XXXVIII-O/08) on “Human Rights, Sexual Orientation, and Gender Identity” by the General Assembly of the Organization of American States during its 38th session in 3 June 2008. (story)


What can I do?

If you think your country might be supportive, it is urgent to contact them and encourage them to join the statement;

Which States have already expressed support? Which have not yet done so?

The main States which have already joined, or might consider joining, the statement are:

Western Group: the 27 European Union countries have already expressed their support for the statement, as have Andorra, Iceland, State of Israel, Liechtenstein, New Zealand, Norway and Switzerland. The Commonwealth of Australia, Canada and the United States of America supported the previous joint statement in 2006 but have not yet joined the current statement, and should be encouraged to maintain their support this time also.

Central and Eastern Europe: The Central and Eastern European States which are EU Members have already endorsed the statement, as have Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia, Ukraine, and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Latin America and the Caribbean: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico and Uruguay have already expressed their support. All other Latin American and Caribbean States supported a historic resolution of the Organization of American States on human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity earlier this year, and may therefore be willing to join the current statement as well.

Africa: Gabon, Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau have already expressed their support. This itself is significant since it will be the first time ever that such a statement has attracted support from all 5 UN regions, including Africa. The main additional State to urge to join the statement is South Africa, which includes sexual orientation in its Constitution, recently affirmed its commitment to non-discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation during the UPR, but has yet to join any such initiative.

Asia: Japan has already expressed its support. However, this is currently the only Asian State to join the initiative.

How do I contact my government?

The most important contact for the United States is the U.S. Department of State.

It is also critical to copy any message to your country’s Ambassador to the United Nations in New York.

What do I tell them?

Send a copy of the joint statement and the Fact Sheet we have prepared to help provide governments with more information (copy and paste the message below into your message). Remember, send the same information to the U.S. State Department as well as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations (see links above).

We have the honor to make this statement on human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity on behalf of the International Lesbian and Gay Association, and its member organization, Kentucky Equality Federation.

1 - We reaffirm the principle of universality of human rights, as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights whose 60th anniversary is celebrated this year, Article 1 of which proclaims that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”;

2 - We reaffirm that everyone is entitled to the enjoyment of human rights without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status, as set out in Article 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 2 of the International Covenants on Civil and Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, as well as in article 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;

3 - We reaffirm the principle of non-discrimination which requires that human rights apply equally to every human being regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity;

4 - We are deeply concerned by violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms based on sexual orientation or gender identity;

5 - We are also disturbed that violence, harassment, discrimination, exclusion, stigmatisation and prejudice are directed against persons in all countries in the world because of sexual orientation or gender identity, and that these practices undermine the integrity and dignity of those subjected to these abuses;

6 - We condemn the human rights violations based on sexual orientation or gender identity wherever they occur, in particular the use of the death penalty on this ground, extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, the practice of torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, arbitrary arrest or detention and deprivation of economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to health;

7 - We recall the statement in 2006 before the Human Rights Council by fifty four countries requesting the President of the Council to provide an opportunity, at an appropriate future session of the Council, for discussing these violations;

8 - We commend the attention paid to these issues by special procedures of the Human Rights Council and treaty bodies and encourage them to continue to integrate consideration of human rights violations based on sexual orientation or gender identity within their relevant mandates;

9 - We welcome the adoption of Resolution AG/RES. 2435 (XXXVIII-O/08) on “Human Rights, Sexual Orientation, and Gender Identity” by the General Assembly of the Organization of American States during its 38th session in 3 June 2008;

10 - We call upon all States and relevant international human rights mechanisms to commit to promote and protect human rights of all persons, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity;

11 - We 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, arrests or detention.

12 - We urge States to ensure that human rights violations based on sexual orientation or gender identity are investigated and perpetrators held accountable and brought to justice;

13 - We urge States to ensure adequate protection of human rights defenders, and remove obstacles which prevent them from carrying out their work on issues of human rights and sexual orientation and gender identity.

Please keep us informed of your any responses you receive so we may communicate them to the International Lesbian & Gay Association (ILGA). ILGA, composed of more than 600 independent organizations around the world is closely monitoring the initiative. You may forward any response you receive to ilga@kyequality.org.

http://www.kentuckylgbt.org/ht/d/Contribute/pid/1122379

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