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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...

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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.


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UN Human Rights Chief Speaks Out Against India's Supreme Court Decision Recriminalizing Gay Sex

Screen Shot 2013-12-12 at 6.12.58 PMThe head of the United Nation's human rights division has denounced the Supreme Court of India's ruling re-criminalizing gay sex, saying the decision violates international human rights laws. RTT News reports:

"Criminalizing private, consensual same-sex sexual conduct violates the rights to privacy and to non-discrimination enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which India has ratified," said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay.

The Supreme Court's decision, she added in a news release, represents "a significant step backwards for India and a blow for human rights."

Indian government officials have vowed to take action against the ruling.  


'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. 

 


Russia Reluctantly Rewords Olympic Truce to Appease UN on Gays

The NYT reports on wrangling over verbiage in a resolution called the Olympic Truce, adopted every two years. The Russians, of course, made no mention of sexual orientation in a submitted draft which promised to include “people of different age, sex, physical capacity, religion, race and social status."

SochiThe NYT reports:

United Nations representatives from around the world spent weeks pushing Russia to amend the language to include gay people, according to interviews with representatives from eight countries. This week, after extensive negotiations behind the scenes, Russia altered the truce’s language to say that it would “promote social inclusion without discrimination of any kind.”

That was enough for all sides to agree that the Olympic Truce was back on track.

Language specifically including sexual orientation or gender identity has never been included, the Times adds:

But this year, with global attention focused on the matter, countries are aiming to set a precedent of inclusion.

“Along with like-minded partners, the United Kingdom is keen to see principles of nondiscrimination included in the Olympic Truce resolution,” said Iona Thomas, a spokeswoman for the United Kingdom Mission to the United Nations.


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