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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.


Desmond Tutu: 'I Would Refuse To Go To A Homophobic Heaven'

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Anglican Archbishop and social rights activist Desmond Tutu made the declaration during the launch of the global public education campaign called "Free & Equal," which we told you about yesterday.

The BBC reports on his stance on equality:

"I would refuse to go to a homophobic heaven. No, I would say sorry, I mean I would much rather go to the other place," Archbishop Tutu said at the launch of the Free and Equal campaign in Cape Town. "I would not worship a God who is homophobic and that is how deeply I feel about this."

Archbishop Tutu said the campaign against homophobia was similar to the campaign waged against racism in South Africa. "I am as passionate about this campaign as I ever was about apartheid. For me, it is at the same level," he added.

Watch a South African Broadcast News segment about Tutu's support of the "Free & Equal" objective, in which he adds that "we should become a society where people are free to be who God made them to be," AFTER THE JUMP.

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United Nations Launches Global Public Education Campaign For LGBT Rights: VIDEO

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On Friday, the United Nations officially unveiled a global public education campaign called 'Free & Equal,' with the goal of increasing support and awareness for LGBT rights around the world. The Washington Blade reports:

The year-long effort, which the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights unveiled during a press conference in Cape Town, South Africa, seeks to raise awareness of anti-LGBT violence and discrimination and encourage what it describes as 'greater respect for the rights of LGBT people.'

The "Free & Equal" campaign will stress what a press release described as the 'need for both legal reforms and public education to counter homophobia and transphobia.' The Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights will also produce a number of videos that are similar to the one it released in May to mark the annual International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu and gay South African Constitutional Court Justice Edwin Cameron, who lives with HIV, joined U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay at the Cape Town press conference.

'Changing attitudes is never easy. But it has happened on other issues and it is happening already in many parts of the world on this one,' Pillay said. 'It begins with often difficult conversations. And that is what we want to do with this campaign. 'Free & Equal' will inspire millions of conversations among people around the world and across the ideological spectrum.'

'The [U.N.'s] Universal Declaration of Human Rights promises a world in which everyone is born free and equal in dignity and rights - no exceptions, no one left behind,' Pillay said. 'Yet it's still a hollow promise for many millions of LGBT people forced to confront hatred, intolerance, violence and discrimination on a daily basis.'

Check out a powerful video about the new campaign's mission, AFTER THE JUMP...

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UN Human Rights Office Urges End to Homophobia, Promises 'Free and Equal' World: VIDEO

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A striking new campaign video from the United Nations human rights office speaks directly about the oppression of LGBT people and features messages from Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay.

Says Pillay: "Every nation is obligated by international human rights law to protect all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from discrimination and violence."

Adds Ban and a chorus of voices: "The United Nations has one simple message to the millions of LGBT people around the world...You are not alone. LGBT rights are human rights. Together we will build a world that is free and equal,"

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

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