Homosexual Rights Resolution Withdrawn at United Nations
Washington Times, March 30, 2004
By Betsy Pisik
NEW YORK—The Brazilian
government, bowing to economic and political pressure from the Islamic world,
yesterday withdrew its effort to protect the civil rights of homosexuals.
Brazil had introduced a resolution before the
Geneva-based U.N. Human Rights Commission to outlaw discrimination based on
But the measure was vehemently opposed by the Vatican and
the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), both of which lobbied the 53
members of the Human Rights Commission to oppose the resolution.
“Since November last year, we have been consulting with
delegations of several countries on the text,” Brazil’s U.N. mission in
Geneva said in a statement. “We have not yet been able, however, to arrive
at a necessary consensus.”
U.N. officials say Brazil may choose to reintroduce the
language at next year’s six-week session.
“What Brazil is proposing is that be postponed until
next year,” said Jose Dias, a spokesman for the Human Rights Commission.
“Technically, they are withdrawing it.”
The same thing happened last year, when Brazil was forced
to postpone consideration of similar language.
Diplomats in Geneva and New York said there was no way
the resolution, which calls on governments to protect citizens’ human rights
“regardless of their sexual orientation,” would pass in the commission.
“There is widespread opposition to it from the Islamic
countries,” said one diplomat who is familiar with the proceedings. “The
Vatican was also opposed.”
The resolution had picked up 18 co-sponsors on the
committee, predominantly European nations.
Scott Long, the director of homosexual, bisexual and
transgender issues for the New York-based Human Rights Watch, said yesterday
that Brazil had come under “extreme pressure” from several Islamic
nations, particularly Egypt and Pakistan.
“We know the OIC threatened on trade relations,” Mr.
Long said. “It’s interesting that the OIC is pulling out all the stops on
this. It’s a concerted effort.”
The countries most opposed to enshrining the rights of
sexual minorities have the most “egregious” records, he added. Mr. Long
singled out Egypt, saying it has entrapped and tortured suspected homosexuals
and has imprisoned hundreds.
“It makes sense that Egypt would not want the U.N. to
have a mandate to shine a light based on sexual orientation,” he said by
telephone from Geneva.
Diplomats from Egypt, the OIC and the Vatican did not
return calls yesterday.
Washington has remained determinedly silent on the
subject of same-sex unions in U.N. discussions in Geneva and New York.
However, the Bush administration is trying to win support for an amendment to
the U.S. Constitution that would restrict marriage to heterosexual couples.
U.S. officials in Geneva could not be reached for
comment, and diplomats in New York could not expand on public statements.
Roughly one-third of all countries outlaw homosexual
More than a dozen nations have varying levels of
recognition of same-sex partnerships. Ecuador was the first nation to offer
explicit human rights protections to homosexuals in its constitution.
Meanwhile, in New York, the issue of same-sex unions has
nearly paralyzed the U.N. General Assembly’s administration and management
committee since Secretary-General Kofi Annan authorized the extension of
family benefits to staff members whose same-sex relationships are formally
recognized by their governments.