Thursday, July 27, 2006

UN Rights Commissioner Calls For Worldwide Gay Rights

by Newscenter Staff
July 26, 2006 - 7:00 pm ET

(Montreal, Quebec) The United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights Wednesday evening told an international conference on LGBT human rights that gays have a fundamental right to privacy and the right to live free of violence.

Louise Arbour was speaking at the opening of the first International Conference on LGBT Human Rights, a four day event associated with the first Outgames in Montreal.

"[There is] a genuine public interest in preserving a space in which the state must not intrude," said Arbour, a former Canadian Supreme Court Justice.

The conference has brought together 2000 people from around the world to discuss LGBT human rights - from essential rights to global issues.

Arbour made the case that the right to privacy not only protects the family and the home, but also one’s sexual identity.

She said that there is a distinct difference between criminal activities conducted in secret and activities that should not be penalized when conducted in private. And she drew the connection between the LGBT individual’s right to privacy and the need to protect freedom of religion, including the freedom to not be required to live by someone else’s view of morality.

Arbour also told the conference that there is "a direct link between the denial of the essential right to privacy and the prevalence of violence against LGBT people throughout the world."

She said that neither the existence of national law nor the prevalence of a country’s customs justifies the "abuse, attacks, torture and indeed killings that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons are subjected to because of who they are or are perceived to be."

Arbour told the delegates that LGBT activists throughout the world must continue to fight for their rights and to work with the United Nations and non-governmental organizations to further their goals.

But while Arbor was speaking a Dutch gay organization was announcing it would distribute a petition among delegates at the conference calling for official recognition of LGBT rights groups by the UN.

Applications by the COC and other LGBT groups have been rejected by the United Nations Economic and Social Council, a think tank made up of non governmental agencies from around the world.

In January the United States joined with four of the world's most repressive regimes to reject applications by the groups (story)

ECOSOC status allows non governmental agencies to attend UN meetings and speak in their own name. The Council already has participation from labor and social rights groups.

COC Netherlands is the oldest LGBT civil rights organization in the world. Last month it submitted a new application for a UN consultative status as NGO.

Chair Frank van Dalen said that in Montreal it will collect as many international signatures as possible in support of their application.

Other participants at the conference include Alice Nkom, a lawyer who is defending 11 men imprisoned for being gay in Cameroon; Ashok Row Kavi, HIV activist and founder of Bombay Dost, India's first registered gay publication; and Georgina Beyer, the world's first transsexual Member of Parliament from New Zealand.

The Outgames themselves will officially open on Saturday bringing together 13,000 athletes from 111 counties

© 2006


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