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
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Numerous countries around the word have repealed their criminal sodomy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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