Gay Human Rights
Network, April 22, 2003
The UN will vote, for the first time in its history, on
the issue of homosexual human rights. The landmark vote takes place on
Wednesday, April 23, at the United Nations Commission on Human Rights at its
59th Session in Geneva.
The resolution “Human Rights and Sexual Orientation”
has been introduced by Brazil with support from various countries, including
members of the European Union, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa.
“All previous attempts to debate gay human rights in
the UN have been vetoed by homophobic governments”, said British human
rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, who first lobbied the UN for a commitment to
gay equality over 30 years ago.
“This is the first-ever UN resolution on lesbian and
gay human rights. It is a historic milestone in the global struggle for queer
freedom. Over 70 countries have a complete ban on homosexuality, with
sentences ranging from imprisonment to public flogging and death. In seven
nations, same-sex relations are punishable by execution. The countries with
capital punishment for homosexuality are: Chechnya, Iran, Iraq, Mauritania,
Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen.
Gay sex is also harshly repressed in Bangladesh, Egypt,
Malaysia and Pakistan, with maximum sentences ranging from three to 20 years
jail. In some countries, such as Mexico, El Salvador, Columbia and Brazil,
right-wing death squads target gay people for assassination in what they call
‘social cleansing` campaigns”.
Tatchell added: “Up to now, the UN has ignored the
persecution of gay people. According to international human rights laws, we
don’t exist and we have no rights. This vote will, hopefully, begin to
challenge the discrimination and violence that blights the lives of hundreds
of millions of lesbians, gays and bisexuals.”