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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, December 17, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 51
U.N. secretary general calls for end to discrimination
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U.N. secretary general calls for end to discrimination

by James Whitely - SGN Staff Writer

On December 10, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and United States Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice appeared on the Human Rights Day panel, vocally condemning violence against LGBT people and the continued criminalization of Gay people in more than 70 countries worldwide.

The Human Rights Day panel was hosted by several U.N. member states and was organized by the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), Human Rights Watch, and various other human rights organizations.

U.N. Secretary General Ban cited the importance of speaking out against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

'Violence will end only when we confront prejudice. Stigma and discrimination will end only when we agree to speak out. That requires all of us to do our part; to speak out at home, at work, in our schools and communities,' said the secretary general.

The main point of the secretary general's statements was that commitment to universal human rights must trump cultural attitudes when there is a tension between the two.

'It has been a challenging year for LGBT rights at the United Nations,' said Cary Alan Johnson, executive director of IGLHRC speaking after the panel. 'We have seen conservative forces try to keep organizations like IGLHRC out of the U.N. and we've suffered some painful setbacks as these same governments work to eliminate or prevent human rights protections for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender people.'

'The importance of this event and the support of figures like the U.N. secretary general and U.S. ambassador cannot be underestimated,' said Johnson.

Ambassador Rice, with the support of several other U.N. member states, vowed that the United States would work in the full U.N. General Assembly to reinsert a longstanding reference to sexual orientation that was recently deleted during committee-level voting from the resolution on extrajudicial, summary, and arbitrary executions.

'We are going to fight to restore the reference to sexual orientation,' said the ambassador. 'We're going to stand firm on this basic principle, and we intend to win.'

The vote on this resolution is expected at the next U.N. General Assembly on December 20.

'We look forward to governments in the General Assembly speaking and acting against discrimination when it really counts, when the support of governments is needed to ensure LGBT people are explicitly included in this resolution is one of those times,' said Johnson.

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