Saturday, 5 February 2011

Will Ban Ki-Moon back up his positive words on LGBTI rights?

Ban Ki-moon, South Korean politicianImage via Wikipedia
By Paul Canning

Inner City Press, which covers the United Nations beat, reports that the application for observer status by the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) has been tossed out again - they've been trying for it for ten years or more.

At the UN's Economic and Social Council the vote called by Pakistan to throw out ILGA's application went:
Peru No, Russia Yes, Senegal Yes, Sudan Yes, Turkey No, USA No, Venezuela Yes, Belgium No, Bulgaria No, Burundi Yes, China Yes, Cuba __, India No, Israel No, Kyrgyzstan Abstain, Morocco Yes, Mozambique Not present, Nicaragua Yes, Pakistan Yes
In the UN's committee on non-governmental organization last week an application for accreditation of the Autonomous Women's Center from Serbia, which mentioned discrimination against lesbians, was questioned and opposed by Pakistan, Morocco, Russia and Sudan.
Pakistan's representative asked sarcastically if the discrimination of lesbians was “against men.” He mocked the application's reference to disability, asking if “lesbianism is a disability.”
An application by the Australian Lesbian Medical Association was similarly mocked:
Pakistan's delegate asked if homosexuals are more prone to sexually transmitted diseases, in terms of having and transmitting those diseases. He asked the NGO support its response with medical documents...
Egypt's representative said:
He did not recognize there was any legally bounding definitions for terms as sexual preferences or orientation or that such terms had been defined by any internationally recognized instrument in the human rights arena.
This is the same argument brought up in the December vote in which lesbians and gays were added to a UN resolution against extrajudicial executions.

Pakistan is pushing the point. Last week they argued at the UN that whatever UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon may have said, it was on his own behalf, not on behalf of member states. Discrimination against gays and lesbians is “not recognized by the UN,” says Pakistan.

Ban Ki-Moon has spoken about LGBTI rights numerous times. In December, and notably in relation to the debate on extrajudical killings, he said:
“Where there is tension between cultural attitudes and universal human rights, universal human rights must carry the day. Personal disapproval, even society's disapproval, is no excuse to arrest, detain, imprison, harass or torture anyone - ever.”
Last week he said:
"We must reject persecution of people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity -- who may be arrested, detained or executed for being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. They may not have popular or political support, but they deserve our support in safeguarding their fundamental human rights."
"Cultural practice cannot justify any violation of human rights. Women's treatment as second-class citizens has been justified, at times, as a 'cultural practice.' So has institutional racism and other forms of inhuman punishment. But that is merely an excuse. When our fellow humans are persecuted because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, we must speak out. That is what I am doing here, that is my consistent position. Human rights are human rights everywhere, for everyone."
Pakistan's statement has led Inner City Press has asked for "the Secretariat's - ideally, the S-G's -- response to this characterization of the S-G's statements and whether discrimination against LGBT is “recognized by the UN.”" And also whether Ki-Moon will defend those NGOs asking to be recognised by the UN.

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