Saturday, August 08, 2009

Islamic Leaders Deplore UN
Commissioner for LGBT Statement

At the June 9 meeting of UN Human Rights Council, Ms. Navi Pillay of South Africa reported to the council members in her capacity as UN Commissioner for Human Rights, according to minutes of the meeting, the location of which was omitted.

Pillay was criticized by Mr. Zamir Akram of Pakistan, and the representative of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, for her appearance and talk at a May conference in Paris, organized by the French government, promoting LGBT tolerance and protection of the human rights of gay persons. Needless to say, Akram didn't approve of Pillay using her UN office for this purpose. From the UN HRC minutes:

ZAMIR AKRAM (Pakistan), speaking on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, said the interaction with the High Commissioner had always been guided by an objective, impartial and frank dialogue ...

On a separate note, deep regret was expressed over the statement of the High Commissioner, in her official capacity, in a meeting convened in Paris on the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender groups. While the High Commissioner was entitled to her personal views, the Organization of the Islamic Conference was confident that she was aware of the fact that this issue had not been universally recognized. In fact, there was not a single universal human rights instrument that recognized the issue as a human rights issue ...

Huh, not a single document exists backing the claim that the abuses suffered worldwide by LGBT persons are not a clearly defiined human rights matter? That is news to me and lots of other people. This Islamic leader could use a little educating on that, if he would care to get over his religious hatred of gay people.

What do we know about the UN HRC leader Pillay's invovlement and statement at the Paris gay meeting in May? Here's a summary from the UN HRC public affairs office:

Pillay was speaking in a pre-recorded message to delegates at an international Congress in Paris organised by the French Government. The Congress aims to build on the progress made late last year when the UN General Assembly heard a statement endorsed by more than 50 countries which called for an end to rights abuses based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

While the statement was non binding, it was squarely based on and reaffirmed existing protections for human rights in international law. It was historic, in that it was the first time that the condemnation of human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity was publically criticized by a large number of states, in the context of the General Assembly.

“The principles of universality and non-discrimination admit no exception,” Pillay said. “The criminalization of different sexual orientation cannot be justified either as a matter of law or as a matter of morality.”

In her address, Pillay acknowledged the concerns that are often expressed in discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Frequently, fears are expressed for the sanctity of the family. “Those doubts and fears,” she said, “can be readily addressed through a human rights approach, which upholds the principles of non-discrimination and respect for diversity.”

Concerns too are often voiced that respect for the human rights of gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender people might unwittingly shield pedophiles from justice. “Nothing limits the applicability of criminal law where actual harm occurs,” she said, “as in the sexual abuse of children, irrespective of whether it is perpetrated by homosexuals or heterosexuals.”

And this is what the representative of the Organization of Islamic Conference objected to. I suspect the leaders of other Christian and Jewish conferences are in agreement with objections to any UN effort to extend human rights work by the global body to LGBT citizens of the world.

I also know there are growing numbers of progressive Muslims, Christians and Jews stepping forward to support UN work on behalf of gay people. Let their voices rise up when we read about our adversaries complaining about this work.

1 comment:

William B. Kelley said...

The meeting was in Geneva. See