LGBT Rights Stymied at UN Despite Pressure

by Stefano Gennarini, J.D.

(GENEVA — C-FAM) In a loss for homosexual groups at the United Nations, member states declined to establish a special UN office for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights last week.

Earlier this year, UN insiders told the Friday Fax that homosexual and transgender rights would soon become mainstream at the United Nations. But their predictions failed to materialize at the current session of the Human Rights Council.

Member states declined to create a special office to monitor LGBT rights globally, and proponents did not table a resolution to that effect because it would have likely failed.

Norway, speaking on behalf of countries that supported such an office, told the Council on Monday that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues should be integrated into the UN systematically at an “appropriate time”— effectively conceding this is impossible right now.

Norway was part of a small group of countries that sponsored a conference calling for LGBT rights in April, which their representative said attracted just 200 people. Norway asked the Council to consider the outcome of the conference even though it was not sponsored by the United Nations.

Only 33 countries joined the statement by Norway. Other countries are weary of an LGBT agenda that goes beyond addressing violence and discrimination and attempts to single out homosexuals for special protections beyond those afforded to all individuals under international law.

The last time the Council addressed the issue of LGBT rights it requested a study from the UN human rights bureaucracy on violence and discrimination against LGBT persons. Member expressed dismayatthe results.

The study asked for social benefits for same sex relationships, special protections in criminal laws, legal recognition for transsexuals, and other controversial demands. The study failed to cite reliable evidence of widespread discrimination against LGBT persons, and acknowledged the scarcity of data available.

There is a growing unease in the developing world with the West’s insistence on special new rights for persons on the basis of their sexual preferences or perceived gender. In Africa, where families are influential units in society, such things are considered immoral and taboo.

Last month, Nigeria enacted a law prohibiting marriage between persons of the same sex. Uganda is set to pass a bill that criminalizes homosexual conduct. This week, Russia enacted a law that prohibits promoting homosexuality among minors.

Even so, many western countries insist that LGBT rights are a priority. Several delegates have complained about the insistent pressures from the United States and some European countries on this issue.

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has repeatedly mentioned LGBT rights in his speeches, though he has not been able to put the issue on the UN agenda.

In May, Navi Pillay, the UN’s highest human rights official, told C-FAM, publisher of the Friday Fax, that Nordic countries dedicate funds to the UN human rights bureaucracy to address LGBT issues. UN ambassadors had questioned her office’s focus on LGBT rights, especially when Ms. Pillay complained about a lack of funding to do the work assigned by the Human Rights Council.

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