Monday, April 30, 2012

UK Foreign Office Issues
Gay Human Rights Report

Just yesterday, I blogged about the U.S. State Department's annual survey of human rights practices and how it was supposed to be released on February 25, and is now two-months overdue. The survey does a very impressive job of including matters of concern to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

I was unaware that the United Kingdom's Foreign and Commonwealth Office would today put out its annual human rights report, which contains a single overview of highlights of LGBT issues around the world. Thanks to an alert from Boris Dittrich, a gay advocacy staffer at Human Rights Watch, to the Euro-Queer listserv I learned about the report.

As we wait for the State Department to publish their 2011 human rights survey, which I hope happens in a matter of days, let's go over key excerpts from the FCO survey's section devoted to LGBT concerns:

The Government is committed to the promotion and protection of the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people as an integral part of its wider international human rights work. It is our view that to render consenting same-sex relations illegal is incompatible with international human rights law, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Despite this, same-sex relations continue to be criminalised in over 70 countries, and discrimination and violence against LGBT people because of their sexual orientation and gender identity continues, including in countries where legislation exists to protect LGBT people. [...]
In November, the Government launched its first ever action plan to advance transgender equality, Advancing Transgender Equality – a plan for action, which includes international commitments to advance transgender equality through the UN. [...]
For example, to mark International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, our Embassy in China raised awareness of LGBT rights through a media and online digital campaign. In Hungary our Embassy hosted the LGBT Business Forum, which brought together different groups and companies to share experience and explore initiatives that could be implemented in the workplace to support their LGBT employees. The Embassy issued a joint statement with several like-minded embassies in support of the Budapest Pride Festival and flew the rainbow flag during the Pride March. [...]
The UK played an instrumental role in building international support for the UN statement on “Ending acts of violence and related human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity” in March. The statement was issued on behalf of 85 countries worldwide – the highest ever number of signatories to a UN statement on this issue. [...]
There were positive developments during 2011 to advance the rights of LGBT people in some countries. For example Liechtenstein, Sao Tome and Principe, Nauru, Seychelles and Brazil launched or announced plans to introduce legislation to further recognise same-sex relations. The United States of America repealed the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy for homosexuals serving in the US military.
However, we do have concerns about developments in some countries. In Russia we have worked with the EU and Council of Europe to lobby the government against introducing a law banning literature promoting homosexuality. In Cameroon we were instrumental in EU efforts to raise human rights concerns with the government, including for minority groups such as LGBT people.
In Nigeria we have urged the government not to introduce legislation criminalising same-sex marriage. We are also concerned to see the return in early 2012 of a Private Members Bill which would strengthen the anti-homosexuality legislation in Uganda. We have lobbied strongly against the bill and continue to do so. [...]

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