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International declarations on LGBT rights

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Rights for homosexual/bisexual/transgender people worldwide:

The United Nations' UN General Assembly proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) on 1948-DEC-10.1,2 This document was published at a time when homosexuality was regarded as a mental illness by most therapists, as a criminal act by most governments, and as the ultimate sin by many faith groups. Understanding of transgender/transsexual persons was then in its infancy.

Since then, at least in North America and western Europe, there have been enormous changes in the acceptance of homosexuality and bisexuality by therapists and the general public -- with the exception of social and religious conservatives. transgender and transsexual persons appear to be the next groups surfacing to seek human rights in the U.S. and Canada.

There have been many laws at the municipal, state/province, and country level that have guaranteed equal rights for persons of all sexual orientations. There have even been a few for transgender persons and transsexuals. Unfortunately the UDHR has never been updated accordingly. 3 In fact, as 2008 drew to a close,

"... not a single international human rights convention explicitly acknowledges the human rights of LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender/transsexual] people." 4

This section will discuss deficiencies in the UDHR and new attempts to establish an international convention that includes all sexual minorities.

This is not a simple task where the reactions of the world's governments towards sexual minorities range from:

bullet Selling them a marriage license and congratulating them on their upcoming marriage, to

bullet Arresting, charging, trying them in court, and executing them. Same-sex sexual behavior is a capital crime in six countries -- all predominately Muslim.

So far, all the world has been able to accomplish is a single, non-binding UN resolution passed by a minority of the countries of the world. Still, a non-binding resolution is better than no resolution at all. It is a major accomplishment and gives hope to LGBTs for the future.

International topics covered in this section:

bullet Deficiencies in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
 
bullet Map showing the worldwide status of laws protecting, recognizing, persecuting and in some countries, executing LGBTI persons
 
bullet Absence of past global conventions. Homophobia in former colonies.
 
bullet

Early attempts to propose a UN declaration on GLBT rights 2002 to 2006

bullet U.N. Commission on Human Rights' 2003 resolution
 
bullet Organization of American States & United Nations declarations: 2008
 
bullet UN Declaration for the global decriminalization of GLBT activity passed
 
bullet The U.S. vote on the UN 2008 declaration

bullet 2011: UN Human Rights Council declaration supporting LGBT rights

References used:

The following information source was used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlink is not necessarily still active today.

  1. The UDHR text is at: http://www.un.org/
  2. The UDHR text is available in other languages at: http://www.unhchr.ch/
  3. "The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is the most universal document in the world," Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, at: http://www.unhchr.ch/
  4. Peter Tatchell, "A watershed for gay rights," Guardian (UK), 2008-DEC-08, at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/

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Copyright 2009 to 2011 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2011-JUN-18
Author: B.A. Robinson

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