homosexuals & bisexuals
Deficiencies in the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights
Human rights in the world:
UN General Assembly resolution 217 A (III) adopted and proclaimed the
Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) on 1948-DEC-10.1,2
The UN holds the Guinness World Record for having collected, translated, and
disseminated the UDHR into more than 300 languages and dialects, from Abkhaz to
In the words of Mary Robinson, the High Commissioner
for Human Rights:
"This project bears a special symbolism. It immediately brings to us a sense of the world's diversity; it is a rich
tapestry with so many different languages and peoples. But, at the same time, it
shows that all of us, in our different forms of expression, can speak the
"common language of humanity", the language of human rights, which is enshrined
in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights." 3
Unfortunately, the UDHR has at least two serious deficiencies:
||It is not universal. Even the governments of the U.S. and Canada have
ignored many of its sections with regard to their treatment of racial,
cultural, religious, and sexual minorities.
For the first two decades of the UDHR's existence, some states in the
U.S. ignored Article 16-1 by criminalizing
||During the George W. Bush administration, the U.S. ignored Article 5
that prohibits torture.
||The UDHR was ratified in 1948 when the vast majority of people in the
world viewed homosexual orientation as a disordered mental illness and
considered homosexual behavior to be a criminal act. Thus the UDHR included
no specific reference to sexual orientation.|
During the lifetime of the UDHR, there has been a rapid change in North
During the 1950s: Evelyn Hooker's (1907-1996)
research demonstrated "... that most self-identified homosexuals are
no worse in social adjustment than the general population." 4
||In 1973, after a lag of two decades, the
American Psychiatric Association removed
homosexuality from its list of mental disorders.
In 2003-JUN, the U.S. Supreme Court found that
laws in Texas and 15 other states that criminalized private, adult,
consensual sex between persons of the same sex were unconstitutional.
||In 2004-MAY, same-sex couples were able to
marry in Massachusetts.
||In 2005-JUL, same-sex couples were able to
marry throughout Canada.
However, much of the rest of the world, for
religious and other reasons, retain beliefs similar to those in North
America during the 1950s.
Because of the status of homosexuality in the
1950s, and the lack of periodic updates to the UDHR, there is no
protection in the document for persons of minority sexual orientation or
If protection is to be provided for homosexuals and transsexuals, there are
two obvious places where the UDHR could be amended:
"Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this
Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex,
language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin,
property, birth or other status."
The phrase: "sexual orientation, gender identity" could be added after "sex."
"Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race,
nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family."
The word "gender" could be added after "race."
The following information source was used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlink is not necessarily still active today.
The UDHR text is at:
The UDHR text is available in other languages at:
"The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is the most universal document
in the world," Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, at:
"Evelyn Hooker," Wikipedia, 2009-JAN-31, at:
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Copyright © 2009 to 2011 by Ontario Consultants on
Latest update: 2011-JUN-18
Author: B.A. Robinson