Last edited: March 27, 2005

UNHCHR to Debate Sexual Orientation Resolution & News Agencies, March 12, 2005

By Ælfwine Mischler, IOL Staff Writer

Dr. Hassan fears that if the draft is endorsed “a great deal of pious and good work in the last many years by pro-family NGOs would have gone to waste.”

CAIRO—The UN High Commission on Human Rights (HCHR) will debate during its 61st session, to kick off in Geneva on Monday, March 14, a long-delayed controversial draft resolution on sexual orientation.

The six-week session will begin with a “high-level segment” for three-and-a-half days, featuring speeches by high government officials and by heads of UN agencies and intergovernmental organizations, according to the HCHR Web site.

The 53 members of the HCHR, the principal human rights organ of the United Nations, will then move through the busy agenda.

The controversial draft “calls upon all States to promote and protect the human rights of all persons regardless of their sexual orientation.”

Dr. Farooq Hassan, an expert in international law and human rights and a former member of the HCHR, told, “If it [UNHCHR] endorses the Sexual Orientation Resolution, I feel that a great deal of pious and good work in the last many years by pro-family NGOs would have gone to waste.”

Islam forbids any homosexual or lesbian activity and allows marriage only between a man and a woman.

Concerned Women for America, a pro-family NGO, also echoed similar concerns.

The advocacy group said, on its Web site, that “there is no definition for sexual orientation, opening the door for pedophilia and other aberrant sexual activities and preferences to be considered a human right. If they are human rights, they cannot be outlawed and must be protected and accommodated by governments.”

The draft was first proposed by Brazil in 2003 and has twice been deferred to the next HCHR session, according to the Web site of the HCHR.

In April 2003, a filibuster led by Muslim states such as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, by introducing many amendments, made a vote impossible.

Last year, United Families International, a pro-family NGO, championed an e-mail campaign against the draft and it was withdrawn for lack of support, the UFI spokesman told IOL.

Other pro-family NGOs also lobbied against the resolution.

Rights Violations

The agenda of the HCHR session also includes violations of human rights in Arab occupied territories (Palestine and the Golan Heights), in Iraq, in Darfur, and in Afghanistan, as well as in other countries.

Among other topics are human rights and the fight against terrorism; violations of the rights of Arabs and Muslims; and combating defamation of religion.

Dr. Hassan told IOL that the session “will really tell if the perceived progress of human rights regime internationally has any tangible existence.”

He said a matter of high significance for the vast Islamic populations “is whether the landmark UN Declaration of 1968 on the Rights of the Occupied Territories is still operative. Or has it been swept away by the most recent ‘evolution’ of the war against terrorism?”

The international law and human rights expert regretted that “Muslims the world over are at the receiving end of this political campaign and it is up to the highest watchdog of international HR law to show the world what has gone wrong.”

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