Does U.N. vote mean dark days ahead ?

With a simple majority vote of 9 countries, LGBT people are removed from category of ‘vulnerable populations,’ left exposed to arbitrary execution

Hardy Haberman Flagging Left

The United Nations recently took a vote and with a simple majority of just nine countries, they removed LGBT people from the special protections category of “vulnerable populations.” That category specifically mentions special protection from extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary execution.

What does this mean? Well, according to the U.N., we are no longer considered worthy of protection against arbitrary execution. In other words, it’s open season on LGBT people in a whole lot of countries.

It is important to note who voted against us: The Russian Federation, China, Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi plus a host of Middle Eastern countries joined the majority to remove us from that list.

In the case of the African nations, I cannot fail to mention that the radical right, especially the far-right ministers in this country, have been a big influence. If you will remember, the draconian anti-gay laws in Uganda were in part encouraged by religious groups from the U.S.

Cary Alan Johnson, executive director of the International Gay And Lesbian Human Rights Commission, said, “This vote is a dangerous and disturbing development. 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.”

Essentially, the vote takes away any power the U.N. might have to protect the lives of LGBT people.

The vote has sent shock waves through the international LGBT community but seems to have had little traction herein the U.S. I suspect that is because much of what the U.N. does is considered unimportant by many Americans.

It’s sad that this body, where crimes against LGBT people have routinely been condemned, has now decided to become silent.

It should be noted who voted to remove LGBT people from this protected group. The list may surprise you:

Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belize, Benin, Botswana, Brunei Dar-Sala, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, China, Comoros, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Cuba, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uzbekistan, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Two nations that really disturb me are Iraq and Afghanistan. I have been an ardent opponent to the wars the Bush administration started there, and now I have even more reason to hope for a speedy end to our involvement.

Many of the names on this list are “most favored nations,” as far as trade with the U.S., and one in particular is most disturbing since it already grants full rights to LGBT people: South Africa.

I can only hope they did not understand the gravity of what they were signing, but I suspect it may signal a new and more repressive future for the African nation that held the most promise.

My suspicion is that the nation of Benin, which brought the matter up on behalf of the African Nations Group, is planning something dark. I would not be surprised to see a whole new raft of severe laws against LGBT people in these African nations.

It looks like very dark times ahead for LGBT people in Africa and the Middle East. I pray I am wrong.

Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and a member of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas. His blog is at http://dungeondiary.blogspot.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 3, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens