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Laws concerning homosexuals & bisexuals

UN 2008 Declaration for the global
decriminalization of GLBT activity

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"GLBT" is a common acronym for Gay, Lesbian,
Bisexual and transgender/transsexual persons.

2008-DEC-18: UN declaration passed:

The declaration, which is non-binding, was co-sponsored by France and the Netherlands. The 192 member states of the UN were almost evenly divided on the declaration: It passed with support from 66 countries. However 57 were opposed and 69 abstained.

The European Union of 27 countries, Australia, Canada, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand and 34 other countries -- including most of the countries of Latin America --  supported the declaration. The 56 predominately Muslim countries belonging to the Organization of the Islamic Conference, and a few other countries either abstained or voted against the declaration. China, Russia, and the United States abstained. 1

The United States was notable as the only western country not voting for the declaration. The vote was taken a few weeks before the end of the Bush administration; the US's vote may have been different if it had been held during the incoming Obama administration.

Opposition to equal rights for homosexuals and transgender persons is one of the very few principles over which the predominately Muslim countries belonging to the Islamic Conference of States (ICS) and the Vatican can agree.

2008-DEC-19: Statement in support of the UN declaration:

The Argentina representative to the UN made a statement:

"We have the honor to make this statement on human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity on behalf of Albania, Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, France, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guinea-Bissau, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Montenegro, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Timor-Leste, United Kingdom, Uruguay, and Venezuela."

  1. "We reaffirm the principle of universality of human rights, as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights whose 60th anniversary is celebrated this year, Article 1 of which proclaims that 'all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights'."

  2. "We reaffirm that everyone is entitled to the enjoyment of human rights without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status, as set out in Article 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 2 of the International Covenants on Civil and Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, as well as in article 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights."

  3. "We reaffirm the principle of non-discrimination which requires that human rights apply equally to every human being regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity."

  4. "We are deeply concerned by violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms based on sexual orientation or gender identity."

  5. "We are also disturbed that violence, harassment, discrimination, exclusion, stigmatization and prejudice are directed against persons in all countries in the world because of sexual orientation or gender identity, and that these practices undermine the integrity and dignity of those subjected to these abuses,"

  6. "We condemn the human rights violations based on sexual orientation or gender identity wherever they occur, in particular the use of the death penalty on this ground, extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, the practice of torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, arbitrary arrest or detention and deprivation of economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to health."

  7. "We recall the statement in 2006 before the Human Rights Council by fifty four countries requesting the President of the Council to provide an opportunity, at an appropriate future session of the Council, for discussing these violations."

  8. "We commend the attention paid to these issues by special procedures of the Human Rights Council and treaty bodies and encourage them to continue to integrate consideration of human rights violations based on sexual orientation or gender identity within their relevant mandates."

  9. "We welcome the adoption of Resolution AG/RES. 2435 (XXXVIII-O/08) on 'Human Rights, Sexual Orientation, and Gender Identity' by the General Assembly of the Organization of American States during its 38th session in 3 June 2008."

  10. "We call upon all States and relevant international human rights mechanisms to commit to promote and protect human rights of all persons, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity."

  11. "We urge States to take all the necessary measures, in particular legislative or administrative, to ensure that sexual orientation or gender identity may under no circumstances be the basis for criminal penalties, in particular executions, arrests or detention."

  12. "We urge States to ensure that human rights violations based on sexual orientation or gender identity are investigated and perpetrators held accountable and brought to justice."

  13. "We urge States to ensure adequate protection of human rights defenders, and remove obstacles which prevent them from carrying out their work on issues of human rights and sexual orientation and gender identity." 2

2008-DEC-19: Statement in opposition to the UN declaration:

Immediately after the Argentinean statement, the UN representative of the Syrian Arab Republic read a counterstatement with the support of: Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Benin, Brunei, Cameroon, Chad, Comoros, Cote d'Ivoire, DPR Korea, Dijbouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Fiji, Gambia, Guinea, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Rwanda, Saint Lucia, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Tajikistan, Togo, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Yemen, and Zimbabwe.

The statement does not seem to have been posted on the Internet. However. Fridae, a group "empowering gay Asia" published a summary that has been widely quoted. 3

Our comments are enclosed in [brackets]. We don't normally intrude in cases like this. However, these arguments seem so pathetically weak, the misinformation is so blatant, and the harm that they do to GLBT victims is so serious that we made an exception in this case:

  1. Rights based on sexual orientation and gender identity are "new rights" that have no legal foundation in any international human rights instrument. [Ignoring the possibility of new human rights leads to stagnation. Also, the Syrian representative is ignoring the OAS declaration earlier in the year]
  2. The real problems are discrimination on the basis of color, race, gender, religion and other grounds, which the Argentinean statement wholly ignores. [Tell that to a homosexual prisoner about to be executed. Also, these types of discrimination are already well covered in the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights]
  3. These matters fall essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of member states. [This is always the last refuge for dictatorships who reserve the right to mistreat their citizens without experiencing criticism from the rest of the world.]

  4. Accepting rights on the basis of "sexual orientation" can lead to acceptance of pedophilia, bestiality and incest. [The Syrian representative's oral statement omitted references to bestiality and incest. Giving a heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual the right to love another adult to whom they are committed does not allow them to molest children, fornicate with animals or have sex with their children or other near relatives.]

  5. LGBTI are not "vulnerable groups" in need of special protection (like women, children, the disabled, and refugees). [Again, tell that to a GLBT person about to be sentenced to life imprisonment or executed].

  6. The idea of a genetic cause for "particular sexual interests or behaviors" has been repeatedly rejected scientifically. [A near consensus of those human sexuality researchers who are not religious conservatives is that sexual orientation has a genetic origin and that gender identity has a genetic and/or pre-birth hormonal origin.]

  7. We must protect the family as "the natural and fundamental group unit of society" in accordance with article 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. [Families come in many forms including those headed by two heterosexuals, two homosexuals, one homosexual and one bisexual or two bisexuals. All spouses, parents and children need protection]

He continued, by apparently negating most of his seven points by stating:

"We strongly deplore all forms of stereotyping, exclusion, stigmatization, prejudice, intolerance, discrimination and violence directed against peoples, communities and individuals on any ground whatsoever, wherever they occur." 3 This statement doesn't make a lot of sense when six of the countries supporting this counterstatement routinely engage in the ultimate form of violence -- execution of their citizens for homosexual behavior.]

2008-DEC-26: Statement by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

On 2008-DEC-26, Mrs. Navanethem Pillay, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said:

"Those who are lesbian, gay or bisexual, those who are transgender, transsexual or intersex, are full and equal members of the human family, and are entitled to be treated as such."

"As you will know, the year ends with a very special moment for our movement worldwide with a declaration on human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity given for the first time in history at the general assembly of the United Nations and signed by 66 countries."

"Sadly, there remain too many countries which continue to criminalize sexual relations between consenting adults of the same sex in defiance of established human rights law. Ironically many of these laws, like Apartheid laws that criminalized sexual relations between consenting adults of different races, are relics of the colonial era and are increasingly becoming recognized as anachronistic and as inconsistent both with international law and with traditional values of dignity, inclusion and respect for all. ..."

"It is our task and our challenge to move beyond a debate on whether all human beings have rights for such questions were long ago laid to rest by the Universal Declaration (of Human Rights] and instead to secure the climate for implementation... Those who are lesbian, gay or bisexual, those who are transgender, transsexual or intersex, are full and equal members of the human family, and are entitled to be treated as such." 4

References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
  1. "Vatican calls for homosexuality to be decriminalized," National Catholic Reporter, 2009-JAN-09, at:
  2. "UN Gen. Assembly statement affirms rights for all. First ever statement on sexual orientation and gender identity at the UN General Assembly," ILGA, 2008-DEC-19, at:
  3. UN - Video, ILGA. 2008-DEC-26, at:
  4. Douglas Sanders, "At the UN: 66 to 57, with 69 abstentions," Fridae, 2008-DEC-22, at:

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Copyright 2009 to 2011 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2009-FEB-13
Latest update: 2011-JUN-19
Author: B.A. Robinson

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