Obama has U.S. added to countries supporting U.N. gay rights resolution

Posted on 19 Mar 2009 at 5:33pm
By Lisa Keen Keen News Service

Former President Bush had refused to sign on to statement denouncing abuses against LGBT people worldwide while he was in office

The Obama administration has signed onto a United Nations official statement of support for "Human Rights, Sexual Orientation, and Gender Identity."

President Bush had refused to have the U.S. sign on in support of the resolution before he left office.

In signing the statement, the United States joins 66 other nations in declaring support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people to be afforded basic human rights. The other nations signed on last December.

The 13-point statement says the signatory nations reaffirm, among other things, "the principle of non-discrimination which requires that human rights apply equally to every human being regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity."

"We are also disturbed that violence, harassment, discrimination, exclusion, stigmatisation and prejudice are directed against persons in all countries in the world because of sexual orientation or gender identity, and that these practices undermine the integrity and dignity of those subjected to these abuses," says the statement.

The countries condemn the use of such practices as execution and torture against people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, as well as "other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, arbitrary arrest or detention and deprivation of economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to health."

The statement makes no mention of the right to equal treatment under marriage laws.

The Human Rights Campaign applauded the Obama administration’s move, noting that it is a reversal of a position taken by the Bush administration. HRC said that, prior to signing onto the statement, the United States was the only western nation that did not support the statement.

HRC President Joe Solmonese said the statement "officially recognizes that basic human rights include the equality of LGBT people."

The 66 other nations signed the statement in December of last year, marking the first time a statement condemning human rights abuses against LGBT people had been presented to the U.N. General Assembly.

The U.S. State Departent issued a three-sentence statement Wednesday, March 18, to note the event, saying the U.S. "is an outspoken defender of human rights and critic of human rights abuses around the world."

© 2009 Keen News Service

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 20, 2009.

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