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Russia and Anti-Gay Nations Fail in Effort to Stop UN from Offering Benefits to Married Gay Staffers

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The UN budget committee has approved a plan proposed by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to offer benefits to all spouses of legally-wed gay UN staffers, the AP reports:

In Tuesday's vote, 43 countries supported a Russian-sponsored resolution that called for the U.N. chief's plan to be dropped while 80 countries opposed it and 37 abstained. Currently, family benefits for U.N. staff members are determined by their country of origin. The secretary-general's plan will give family benefits to all staffers who are legally married — regardless of the laws on same-sex marriage in their home countries.

Saudi Arabia, China, Iran, India, Egypt, Pakistan, and Syria joined Russia in opposing the benefits.

Reuters adds:

Russia wanted the 193-member General Assembly Fifth Committee, which deals with the U.N. budget, to overturn Ban's decision and had been threatening to put the measure to a vote since December.

Deputy Russian U.N. Ambassador Petr Iliichev said before the vote that the United Nations should return to how the issue was previously regulated, citing it as "an example of how the United Nations respects cultural differences, the sovereign right of each and every state to determine its norms."


Russia Attempting to Block UN Staff Benefits for Gay Couples

Last July, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (pictured below) announced that the UN would formally recognize and extend benefits to all legal same-sex marriages of its staff.

Russia is now trying to change that.  

Reuters reports:

UnRussia wants the General Assembly Fifth Committee, which deals with the United Nationsbudget, to overturn Ban's decision and requested a vote on Tuesday. Russia has been threatening to put the measure to a vote since December.

The Fifth Committee website was updated on Friday to show that "action" would be taken on the proposal on Tuesday.

Diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it was unclear how much support there was for the measure. The Russian U.N. mission declined to comment.


Conchita Wurst Performs at UN for Secretary-General, Dignitaries: VIDEO

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Earlier we reported that Eurovision winner and drag queen Conchita Wurst met with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the UN in Vienna after Ban praised her work for LGBT and human rights.

Wurst also performed Cher's "Believe" and "Rise Like a Phoenix", her winning Eurovision song.

Watch her performance, as well as Ban Ki-moon's full remarks, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Continue reading "Conchita Wurst Performs at UN for Secretary-General, Dignitaries: VIDEO" »


UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon Denounces Attacks on LGBTI People in Sochi Remarks: VIDEO

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UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon gave a speech ahead of the Olympic games in Sochi condemned attacks on LGBTI people worldwide without specifically mentioning Russia's anti-gay law, the Guardian reports:

BankimoonBan Ki-moon, addressing the IOC before Friday's opening ceremony, highlighted the fact that the theme of the UN's human rights day last December was "sport comes out against homophobia".

"Many professional athletes, gay and straight, are speaking out against prejudice. We must all raise our voices against attacks on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex people," he said. "We must oppose the arrests, imprisonments and discriminatory restrictions they face."

"The United Nations stands strongly behind our own 'free and equal' campaign, and I look forward to working with the IOC, governments and other partners around the world to build societies of equality and tolerance. Hatred of any kind must have no place in the 21st century."

He offered further remarks at a separate press conference with IOC president Thomas Bach.

Watch both clips, AFTER THE JUMP...

KozakRussian deputy prime minister Dmitry Kozak was later asked for his reaction to the UN secretary general's remarks, USA Today reports:

Kozak was also asked for his reaction to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who blasted any "arrests, imprisonments and discriminatory restrictions" carried out against homosexuals during a speech to the IOC on Thursday morning. The comments were pointed toward Russia's so-called "gay propaganda" law, which has inspired various forms of protest and political blowback leading up to the Games.

Kozak essentially repeated Russian president Vladimir Putin, who said the law only bans propaganda aimed at minors and that gay athletes and visitors won't be arrested in Sochi.

"We don't differentiate between people depending on nationality, religion or sexual relations," Kozak said. "We are all grown-ups and any adult has the right to understand their sexual acts. Please don't touch the kids, that's the only thing."

Watch Ban-Ki's remarks, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon Denounces Attacks on LGBTI People in Sochi Remarks: VIDEO" »


UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon Expresses 'Deep Concern' Over Arrests, Torture of Gays in Nigeria

UN Secretary Ban Ki-Moon has released a statement through his spokesperson on the situation in Nigeria, where the arrests and torture of gay people have been reported following the signing of an anti-gay law by President Goodluck Jonathan.

The statement: Bankimoon

The Secretary-General shares the deep concern expressed yesterday by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, following the recent signing into law of the Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act in Nigeria. The law introduces a wide range of offences, in breach of fundamental human rights, including 14-year jail terms for same-sex couples who live together or attempt to solemnize their union with a ceremony. The Secretary-General fears that the law may fuel prejudice and violence, and notes with alarm reports that police in northern Nigeria have arrested individuals believed by the authorities to be homosexuals, and may even have tortured them.  As UNAIDS and the Global Fund noted in a statement yesterday, the law also risks obstructing effective responses to HIV/AIDS.

The Secretary-General reiterates that everyone is entitled to enjoy the same basic rights and live a life of worth and dignity without discrimination. This fundamental principle is embedded in the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The Secretary-General strongly hopes that the constitutionality of the law can be reviewed. The United Nations stands ready to assist Nigeria in any way to bring about constructive dialogue and change on this matter.


'Pride House' Calls on UN to Denounce Russia's Anti-Gay Laws

Screen Shot 2013-09-20 at 4.32.59 PMAn international coalition of LGBT sports and human rights activists have demanded that the United Nations take action to support LGBT people before the Sochi Olympics in 2014. 

Pride House International is calling for the UN flag to not be flown at the games (as is the tradition), for the rainbow symbol to be protected (as well as all those who adopt the symbol), and for Ban Ki Moon, the UN Secretary-General, to denounce Russia's crackdown on LGBT people during the "Solemn Appeal for an Olympic Truce". 

In a press release, members of Pride House "expressed their dismay at the failure of the United Nations to make a clear statement against Russian anti-gay laws in their draft resolution for an Olympic Truce."

The Olympic Truce, a call for peace and understanding during the Olympics, hearkens back to the custom of ekecheiria during the ancient Olympics. It is now the practice of the United Nations General Assembly to approve a resolution calling for an Olympic Truce prior to each edition of the Olympic Games. Despite efforts by many in the United Nations, the resolution proposed by the government of Russia fails to include specific language against LGBT discrimination, and of course does not denounce the current situation of homophobia that imperils the principle of sport for all and sport as a human right during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games."

In August Pride House, in conjunction with other LGBT organizations, launched a protest campaign called the "Same-sex Hand-Holding Initiative" which, simply, calls on everyone (athletes, coaches, spectators, staff, etc.) to hold hands with members of the same sex as often as possible in Russia during the Olympics. The protest is an effort to bypass the Internationl Olympic Committee-sanctioned ban on more overt displays of same-sex support like kissing or rainbow paraphernalia. 

Towleroad reported last month on the IOC's coming out against pro-gay advocacy at the Olympics:

According to the report [released by Gay Star News, the IOC plans equate any displays of LGBT rights advocacy or solidarity with a "demonstration of political, religious or racial propaganda", which is prohibited by Rule 50 if the organization's charter. Those found in violation of Rule 50 can be subject to "disqualification or withdrawal of the accreditation of the person concerned," without any sort of appeal. The IOC spokeswoman who spoke to Gay Star News did not specify if those found "in violation of Rule 50" would also be subject to any punitive action by Russian authorities. 

 


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