Saturday, March 19, 2011

Gays Oppose the Death Penalty

Earlier today in Paris the leaders of the International Day Against Homophobia on May 17 issued a crucial statement against the death penalty. IDAHO was founded in 2005 to unite gays around the globe in solidarity calling for the respect of the human rights, dignity and respect of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex peoples.

IDAHO's anti-death penalty statement has come into existence because of several factors.

First, gays in Uganda face the passage and enactment of a draconian "kill the homosexuals" piece of legislation, and the voices of all global gay organizations, including IDAHO's, need to speak out against the Ugandan legislation.

Second, after I learned that a gay Russian leader who is on the board of directors of IDAHO, speaking for himself and not the group, said he supported the death penalty, the IDAHO board received a request from me asking that the organization clearly and unequivocally declare their official position opposing state-sanctioned executions.

There were other peace and justice factors driving the IDAHO leaders to write and distribute this position paper, at this time. I offer applause and say thanks, merci, gracias, спасибо, danke, and all the other ways of expressing gratitude to those leaders.

Speaking as an American gay human rights activist, I would like to see U.S. groups - Human Rights Campaign, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, et al. - and our community newspapers, organizers and bloggers all take the IDAHO declaration and either endorse it in full, or proclaim their own similar statements calling for an end to capital punishment.

Here is the statement from Paris:

Official IDAHO Statement on Homophobia, Transphobia and the Death Penalty

The IDAHO Committee, as a Human Rights organization, intrinsically subscribes to the universal principles of the UN founding Declaration of 1945 which, by its third article, declares the right to life as the most fundamental of all.

One of the first initiatives of the IDAHO Committee was the campaign for the universal decriminalization of homosexuality back in 2005. On this occasion, the IDAHO Committee has received the support of a large part of the global movement against death penalty, including the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty.

This link between the fight against capital punishment and the fight against the criminalization of homosexuality is organic: beyond the 'logical' alliance between the two causes, they are bound by the very principle of the indivisibility of Human Rights. When a society gives itself the right to kill, it quite naturally extends it to the right not to respect other fundamental rights, including all rights considered 'lesser', like privacy, dignity, freedom of expression, etc. 

Seven (7) countries in the world today still have death penalty in their books for the "crime" of homosexuality. People who feel same-sex attractions of who vary from allowed gender norms are, at least symbolically, affected by the death penalty, which endorses the principle of the right of 'life and death' of a society over its citizens. It enshrines a ‘right to kill’.

Small wonder then that the countries in which capital punishment is legitimate are amongst those in which homicide rates are the strongest.

Because the IDAHO Committee has been fighting since its origin for the respect of Human Rights of sexual and gender minorities,

Because the IDAHO Committee believes in the indivisibility of human rights:

The IDAHO Committee opposes categorically any form of death penalty in all circumstances and calls upon States and institutions to abolish all forms of capital punishment and instead to make every effort to ensure the right to life of all citizens, including all the men and women who are victims of assassinations, extrajudicial executions and other forms of violence and abuse, which the existence of the death penalty implicitly supports.

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