Thursday, March 8, 2012

Business as Usual

Yesterday, the United Nations Human Rights Council held its first Panel on "Ending Violence and Discrimination based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity".

As expected, some Member States - many of those from the OIC and some from Africa - walked out in protest, leaving a few of their representatives to explain why.  Although seats were empty in the Council Chamber, many who remained noted that walking-out does not relieve those States of their obligations to protect Human Rights.

But after their departure, the lights dimmed and an inspiring video message from Secretary General Ban Ki Moon was shown before panellists and governments made statements.  The whole three hour panel can be viewed here.

There are already summaries available of yesterday's proceedings.  Highlights included a moving statement by Germany on the persecution of homosexuals under the Nazi regime (found at 01:19:13) and a statement by a Dutch organization on the human rights violations suffered by transgender people.

A large number of countries wanted to speak, so many that there wasn't enough time for them all.  What was heartening was that the overwhelming majority were affirming of the importance of protecting the human rights of LGBT people.  Many of their statements are being posted on the United Nations website.  They can be also easily be found at the end of this blog or here.  Find your own country, or one that interests you, and see what they had to say.

The closing remarks by the Brazilian Ambassador struck a chord with many.   She declared, somewhat surprisingly, that the Panel should not be seen as an historic moment, but rather 'business as usual' for the Council, at the core of its ongoing work to protect the human rights of all people.

That statement was significant.  It affirmed what has always been the case: LGBT people are not looking for special consideration, nor are they trying to create new rights.  Rather, they want to remind the world that human rights exist for all people, and that all people need to be protected from violations.  That gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights.


  1. THanks for the links - very helpful. Anything from Italy?

    1. Glad you find the links helpful.

      Italy didn't make a submission in this panel. Many countries didn't - that's normal for the Human Rights Council. As a European Union member state, though, Italy would endorse the EU's statement: