Last edited: November 09, 2003

Amnesty International OUTfront Statement – Historic Supreme Court decision in Lawrence and Garner v. Texas

Amnesty International USA, June 26, 2003

Amnesty International USA congratulates Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund on its victory in the historic Lawrence and Garner v. Texas case. Amnesty also recognizes all the other organizations and individual leaders who have worked tirelessly over the years to challenge this country’s remaining sodomy statutes.

Today’s decision is an important step in the advancement of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) human rights. As a result of this decision, the US now joins the majority of the world’s countries in decriminalizing homosexual relations between consenting adults and takes an important, if belated step, toward the full recognition of the human rights of LGBT people.

Laws which criminalize homosexual relations between consenting adults are in clear violation of international human rights standards. In its 1981 Dudgeon v. United Kingdom decision the European Court of Human Rights found statutes criminalizing homosexual relations to be in violation of the European Convention of Human Rights. Similarly, in 1994, the United Nations Committee for Human Rights found in Toonen v. Australia that a Tasmanian law criminalizing homosexual relations was in violation of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights.

Numerous countries around the word have repealed their criminal sodomy statutes over the last two decades.

In addition to laws criminalizing homosexual behavior being a human rights violation in and of themselves, Amnesty International has found that the existence of such laws often creates a climate in which LGBT people are more likely to be to be targeted for specific human rights abuses including acts of violence and to be denied access to other human rights guarantees.

Today’s United States Supreme Court decision gives reason to hope that the US lagging behind much of the rest of the world in extending human rights protections to LGBT people will finally recognize that the exclusion of some compromises the human rights of all.

Amnesty International hopes that todayís decision marks continued progress in the advancement of LGBT human rights around the world. Even as we celebrate todayís decision we must not forget that some 70 countries still have laws prohibiting homosexual relations and that conviction under these statues can range from lengthy prison sentences and fines to torture, and in several countries, the death penalty.

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