Muslim Nations Oppose Pro-Gay U.N. Resolution
Advocate, April 25, 2003
The world’s top U.N. human rights watchdog committee
faced the anger of Muslim members Friday as it tackled the rights of gay men
and lesbians for the first time. Brazil is proposing that the 53-nation Human
Rights Commission pass a resolution expressing “deep concern at the
occurrence of violations of human rights in the world against persons on the
grounds of their sexual orientation.” The proposal is backed by European
countries. However, five Muslim countries—Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Egypt,
Libya, and Malaysia—have proposed amendments that remove the words “sexual
orientation” throughout the document and instead simply stress that everyone
is entitled to respect of their human rights. “There are some proposals
which create fundamental difficulties for a large group of delegations,”
Pakistani ambassador Shaukat Umer told the meeting.
The commission tackles a wide range of rights violations,
ranging from torture and mass killings to the right to education, food, and
housing for all. However, this is the first time that a nation has made a
proposal specifically regarding sexual orientation.
Amnesty International said millions of people across the
globe face imprisonment, torture, violence, and discrimination because of
their sexual orientation. It pointed in particular to Egypt’s sentencing of
21 men to three years in prison last month on charges of “practicing
debauchery.” “Adoption of the resolution is the only way to end the
intolerable exclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people from
the full protection of the U.N. system,” Amnesty said in a statement.
“Greater attention by the United Nations to this issue could make a real
difference to real lives.”
Friday is the last day of the commission’s six-week
meeting, and Brazil is concerned that some members are using procedural
tactics to prevent a vote being taken. The resolution is supported by Germany,
which said the meeting should not end until all resolutions had been voted on.