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U.N. Committee Members Find Use Of Conversion Therapy 'Troubling'

Picture 2The United Nations Committee Against Torture (CAT) finds the discredited practice of conversion therapy used on LGBT youth in the U.S. cause for concern as reported in a press release today from the National Center for Lesbian Rights. Leaders from the NCLR testified before the committee and the U.S. State Department asking the U.S. government to address the use of the archaic practice.

Notable CAT members Sabtyabhoosun Gupt Domah of Mauritius, Jens Modvig of Denmark and Sapana Pradhan Malla of Nepal repeatedly questioned U.S. Department of State representatives why conversion therapy is still considered a viable treatment for LGBT youth despite receiving condemnation from every major, reputable medical organization and is a treatment that is clearly known to lead to depression and suicide in its "patients." NCLR's Samantha Ames, a campaign coordinator behind NCLR's #BornPerfect campaign who testified before the U.N. Committee yesterday on the issue, praised the committee for addressing the issue.

Said Ames:

"Today, for the first time, a United Nations committee recognized that conversion therapy is an issue of international human rights. We are incredibly grateful to the Committee Against Torture for raising up the voices of conversion therapy survivors, and ensuring their suffering is finally being vindicated. Today was a historic day for LGBT people in the United States and around the world. There is no going back."

NCLR’s #BornPerfect campaign is a national effort aimed at ending conversion therapy within the next five years by introducing and passing laws across the country to protect LGBT youth, fighting in courtrooms to ensure their safety and raising awareness about the serious harms caused by these unsanctioned and dangerous practices. California introduced a bill banning conversion therapy in 2012 that was later challenged this year by therapy practitioners. However, the U.S. Supreme Court later upheld California's bill banning the controversial therapy.


Sam Smith, Coldplay, Adele, Others to Re-Record 'Do They Know It's Christmas' for Ebola Relief

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Bob Geldof is getting the Band Aid back together again. In a press conference on Monday, Geldof and Midge Ure announced that the iconic (and some say annoying) charity hit "Do They Know It's Christmas" will be re-recorded to raise funds to fight ebola, with new artists like Sam Smith, Ed Sheeran, One Direction, and Adele joining megabands like Coldplay and U2 (who were on the original 1984 recording). The lyrics of the song will be slightly adjusted to reflect the situation of ebola rather than famine, which was their original cause celeb. 

Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 5.35.03 PMGeldof said that the new group, named Band Aid 30 in honor of the 30th anniversary of the first recording, was inspired not by nostalgia but by the United Nations. "Three weeks ago I got a call from the UN saying they required a 20% increase across the board [in funding to fight ebola]," said Geldof, known as much for being a humanitarian and a musician. "They are very concerned about the situation in west Africa.”

Geldof will gather all the artists in a London studio this weekend with an online release next Monday. This marks the fourth time the song will be recorded to help a humanitarian cause, the last effort being in 2004 with a hip hop-oriented cover to raise money for war torn Darfur. Geldof also mentioned that he had contacted Quincy Jones to see about enlisting American artists to help. Can a "We Are The World"-redux be next?

Watch the 1984 original and Geldof's presser, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Meet France's New, Openly Gay Ambassador to the U.S. Gérard Araud

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Over the summer, Gerard Araud, 61, became the first openly gay French ambassador to the United States. Now, in Vogue profile, he lets loose with undiplomatic candor about U.S. policies in Iraq, his "fiery Twitter feed", and a personal pass on gay marriage. “I am not interested at this moment in marriage for myself,” Araud says, regarding his relationship of 19 years with photographer Pascal Blondeau. “But I don’t see any reason why anyone should be denied this right.”  In his home country, marriage equality became legal in 2013 after some violent protests.

Araud, a career diplomat who started working in Washington in the early '80s, was previously France's outspoken representative to the United Nations, where he developed a close friendship with the U.S. rep Samantha Power. He even talks about how they still keep in touch via cute text messages (i.e. "On behalf of the French mission, I have to tell you: you are beautiful"). While Power appreciates the compliments, she praises Araud on his mastery of diplomacy and his strength as a savvy international strategist. This being Vogue, there is less discussion of this topic than the fashionable Araud's feelings regarding the boxy, black suits that diplomats are prone to wear, not to mention his role in the gut renovation of the famed French residence in Washington. But his frank nature comes across loud and clear and is remarkable given his post as one of the highest profile diplomats in D.C.

Cehck out the full article here

[photo via Twitter]


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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UN Secretary-General Praises Conchita Wurst and Her Human Rights Advocacy

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This morning in Vienna, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hosted a meeting with Eurovision's Conchita Wurst. Reunters reports Secretary-General Ban praised Wurst for her talent, as well as what she represents from a human rights perspective.

Despite the UN's somewhat uneven track record on gay issues, this news is the latest in a consistant trend of good news for LGBT people out of the U.N.

Secretary-General Ban thanked Wurst for turning Eurovision into a "moment of human rights education." 

Said Ban: 

This year I extended benefits to same-sex partners of U.N. staff members... Discrimination has no place in the United Nations...When I heard that [Wurst] won this Eurovision song contest I immediately knew that she was a star of the world.

Reuters points out Ban's endorsement is particularly meaningful at a time when global tensions over LGBT issues are rising. They quote a confidant of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who criticized Wurst, saying she symbolised "ethno-fascism," and a "decadent agenda" that the West tries to impose. 

[photo via Twitter]


United Nations Human Rights Council Approves LGBT Rights Resolution: READ

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Earlier today the United Nations Human Rights Commission approved 25-14 a resolution opposing anti-LGBT violence and discrimination, The Washington Blade reports:

VoteThe U.S., along with Argentina, Austria, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Montenegro, Peru, Philippines, South Korea, South Africa, Macedonia, the U.K., Venezuela and Vietnam voted for the proposal. Algeria, Botswana, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Gabon, Indonesia, Kenya, Kuwait, Maldives, Morocco, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates opposed it.

Burkina Faso, China, Congo, India, Kazakhstan, Namibia and Sierra Leone abstained.

The U.N. Human Rights Council before the final vote rejected seven proposed amendments put forth by Egypt, Uganda, Pakistan, South Sudan and other countries that sought to strip LGBT-specific language from the proposal

Said U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power:

I am very pleased that the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a resolution today to combat discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons. This is only the second time in its history the Human Rights Council has adopted a resolution on LGBT rights, and the first time it has done so with a majority of its members. This resolution mandates a much-needed UN report that will investigate and bring to the world’s attention the violence and discrimination faced by individuals around the world simply because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.

Read the resolution, AFTER THE JUMP...

Buzzfeed adds that much attention was paid to South Africa's vote - due to recent concerns that the country might slowly be turning away from its pro-LGBT status in the region. The country ultimately voted for the resolution, but LGBT activists close to the negotiations said it worked to water down the resolution before the vote. 

MintyIn remarks delivered following the vote, South African Ambassador Abdul Samad Minty [pictured] made clear he felt squeezed by its historic commitment to LGBT rights — it was the first country in the world to protect LGBT rights in its constitution — and a desire to preserve relationships with other African countries that have recently enacted severe anti-LGBT laws like Uganda and Nigeria.

“South Africa believes that no person should fear for their safety or be deprived of their dignity because of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” Minty said, but blasted “divisive” steps taken by some donor nations to “use development aid to shift policies and laws in some countries,” an apparent reference to adjustments made by the United States and some European countries in contributions to Uganda following enactment of its Anti-Homosexuality Act earlier this year.

[vote count photo via Twitter]

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