noted yesterday that the United Nations truly failed LGBT people this week, with a sad vote that removed sexual orientation from a resolution condemning extrajudicial killings. So while the UN condemned illegal killings based on national, racial, ethnic, religious or linguistic group status, it gave a huge thumbs up to countries that murder LGBT people.
The move to strip sexual orientation from this resolution was led by a coalition of mostly African countries, especially Benin, Mali and Morocco. More than 70 other countries joined with them, including some of the harshest anti-gay countries on the planet: Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Uganda, Iran, and Zimbabwe, to name a few.
Guess who else joined this exclusive list of countries that want to permit the extrajudicial killing of LGBT people?
South Africa. Yup, the only African nation that recognizes the legal relationship of same-sex couples voted with the likes of Sudan and Iran to remove sexual orientation from a resolution condemning extrajudicial killing.
As the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) notes, the vote to remove sexual orientation from this resolution is both dangerous and disturbing. Though there have been some major advances at the UN this past year in regards to LGBT rights, the message this vote sends is that the majority of countries -- even countries that are supposedly hospitable to LGBT people -- won't condemn the extrajudicial killing of LGBT people. Perhaps it's time for the bulk of the UN members to go back and read that little thing called the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
"It essentially removes the important recognition of the particular vulnerability faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people -- a recognition that is crucial at a time when 76 countries around the world criminalize homosexuality, five consider it a capital crime, and countries like Uganda are considering adding the death penalty to their laws criminalizing homosexuality," said Cary Alan Johnson, the Executive Director of IGLHRC, of the vote.
Talk about a UN Fail. And while it might not be surprising to see countries like Uganda and Sudan trying to remove sexual orientation from various resolutions, South Africa should be pretty ashamed of itself. Had Archbishop Desmond Tutu not retired, it might be worth petitioning him to slap South Africa's UN Mission upside the head (nonviolently, of course). What a failure to live up to the promise of human rights, especially for a country that has seen such pain, division and violence toward specific groups of people in its history.
Send South Africa's UN Mission a message that their vote on this resolution was a catastrophic mistake, and did not live up to the country's own commitment to foster human rights for all citizens. Giving even tacit permission for countries to kill LGBT people is reprehensible. But to endorse a resolution like this? It's downright shameful.
The UN General Assembly recently voted on a resolution condemning extrajudicial killings on the basis of national, racial, ethnic, religious or linguistic group status. Sexual orientation was also supposed to be included in this list, but a host of mostly African nations voted to remove sexual orientation from the resolution. They won by nine votes.
Some fiercely anti-gay countries were behind this move. Uganda, Iran, Mali, Zimbabwe, Saudi Arabia, and Somalia all voted to remove sexual orientation from this resolution. But shockingly enough, so did South Africa, a country that supposedly values the participation of LGBT people in its society, and provides legal recognition to same-sex couples.
Send the South Africa Permanent Mission to the United Nations a message that their vote to remove sexual orientation from this resolution was both immoral and outrageous. Giving even tacit approval to countries that murder LGBT people is reprehensible. But to actively vote in partnership with countries that want to execute gay people? That's downright shameful. South Africa failed to live up to its human rights commitments, and they should hear from the global community about it.
Condemn extrajudicial killings on the basis of sexual orientationDear South African Permanent Mission to the United Nations,
I am deeply troubled that South Africa chose to vote with Iran, Sudan, Uganda, Zimbabwe and a host of other countries to remove sexual orientation from a UN General Assembly resolution condemning extrajudicial killings. This is truly unacceptable, and flies in the face of the commitments your country has made to foster human rights for all people.
Under the resolution, the UN condemned extrajudicial killings on the basis of national, racial, ethnic, religious or linguistic group status. Sexual orientation was supposed to be included in that, and indeed, the reality around the globe is that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people face routine violence and harsh laws that criminalize homosexuality. With your vote to remove sexual orientation from this resolution, South Africa has given tacit permission to countries who choose to kill people on the basis of their sexual orientation. That is tragic, unacceptable, and shameful.
I urge you to condemn extrajudicial killings on the basis of sexual orientation. South Africa is supposed to be a beacon of hope for the promise of human rights. Sadly, your vote in this situation failed to live up to that reputation.
Thank you for your time.
[Your name here]