26 January 2006

United Nations: U.S. aligned with Iran in anti-gay vote

Hey, wait a minute! Didn't Bush count Iran among his so-called "Axis of Evil"? Yeah, I thought so.

But Bush, Bolton, etc., will side with Iran when it's convenient. They will side with Iran when it comes to denigrating people like Dick Cheney's daughter Mary and advancing their homophobic agenda. They will join with Iran in describing LGBT persons as "worse than dogs and pigs".

But they'll give special favors to Jeff Gannon, won't they?!

Why are they so repressed? And what are they so afraid of?

From a news release from the Human Rights Campaign, et al:
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News from the Human Rights Campaign, Human Rights Watch, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

For Immediate Release - Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2006

United Nations: U.S. Aligned With Iran in Anti-Gay Vote

Rice Must Explain Repressive UN Ban on LGBT Rights Groups

(Washington, D.C., January 25, 2006) - In a reversal of policy, the United States on Monday backed an Iranian initiative to deny United Nations consultative status to organizations working to protect the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. In a letter to Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, a coalition of 40 organizations, led by the Human Rights Campaign, Human Rights Watch, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, called for an explanation of the vote which aligned the United States with governments that have long repressed the rights of sexual minorities.

"This vote is an aggressive assault by the U.S. government on the right of sexual minorities to be heard," said Scott Long, director of the LGBT rights program at Human Rights Watch. "It is astonishing that the Bush administration would align itself with Sudan, China, Iran and Zimbabwe in a coalition of the homophobic."

In May 2005, the International Lesbian and Gay Association, which is based in Brussels, and the Danish gay rights group Landsforeningen for Bosser og Lesbiske (LBL) applied for consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council. Consultative status is the only official means by which non-governmental organizations (NGOs) around the world can influence and participate in discussions among member states at the United Nations. Nearly 3,000 groups enjoy this status.

States opposed to the two groups' applications moved to have them summarily dismissed, an almost unprecedented move at the UN, where organizations are ordinarily allowed to state their cases. The U.S. abstained on a vote which would have allowed the debate to continue and the groups to be heard. It then voted to reject the applications.

"The United States recklessly ignored its own reporting proving the need for international support for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. "The State Department's 'Country Reports on Human Rights Practices' show severe human rights violations based on gender identity and sexual orientation occur around the world."

As the U.S. government acknowledged in its 2004 country report on Iran, Iranian law punishes homosexual conduct between men with the death penalty. Human Rights Watch has documented four cases of arrests, flogging, or execution of gay men in Iran since 2003. In its 2004 country report on Zimbabwe, the U.S. government noted President Robert Mugabe's public denouncement of homosexuals, blaming them for "Africa's ills." In the past, Mugabe has called gays and lesbians "people without rights" and "worse than dogs and pigs."

The U.S. has reversed position since 2002, when it voted to support the International Lesbian and Gay Association's request to have its status reviewed. Officials gave no explanation for the change.

"It is deeply disturbing that, at the UN, the United States has shifted gears toward an aggressive stance against human rights for LGBT people," said Paula Ettelbrick, executive director of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission. "Unfortunately, denying LGBT groups a voice and a presence within the United Nations - the world's most important human rights institution - is fully in keeping with the U.S.'s assault on basic human rights principles worldwide."

In voting against the applications to the NGO committee, the U.S. was joined by Cameroon, China, Cuba, Iran, Pakistan, the Russian Federation, Senegal, Sudan, and Zimbabwe. Votes in favor of consultative status came from Chile, France, Germany, Peru, and Romania. Colombia, India, and Turkey abstained, while Cote d'Ivoire was absent.

"It is an absolute outrage that the United States has chosen to align itself with oppressive governments - all in an effort to smother the voices of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people around the world," said Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. "It is deeply disturbing that the self-proclaimed 'leader of the free world' will ally with bigots at the drop of a hat to advance the right wing's anti-gay agenda."

In addition to the Human Rights Campaign, Human Rights Watch, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the organizations signing the letter are:

Advocates for Youth

Al-Fatiha Foundation for LGBT Muslims

Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic, Yale Law School

Amnesty International USA

Catholics for a Free Choice

Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE)

Center for Women's Global Leadership

Colombian Lesbian and Gay Association (COLEGA)

Congregation Beth Simchat Torah

Equality Now

Family Care International

Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation

Gay Men's Health Crisis

Global Rights

Immigration Equality

International Women's Human Rights Clinic, City University of New York School of Law

Ipas

Jan Hus Church

Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund

Latino Commission on AIDS

L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center

Legal Momentum

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center (New York City)

MADRE

Mano a Mano

Metropolitan Community Churches

National Black Justice Coalition

National Center for Transgender Equality

National Coalition Building Institute Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender Caucus

National Center for Lesbian Rights

New Hampshire Freedom to Marry Coalition

Open Society Institute

Queer Progressive Agenda

Queers for Economic Justice

Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S.

Women's Environment and Development Organization

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For further information, please contact:

In Washington, D.C., Jay Smith Brown (Human Rights Campaign):
+1-202-216-1580, or +1-202-716-1650 (cell)

In New York, Scott Long (Human Rights Watch): +1-212-216-1297, or
+1-646-641-5655 (cell)

In New York, Geoffrey Knox (International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission): +1-212-229-0540, or +1-917-414-1749 (cell)

In New York, Roberta Sklar (National Gay and Lesbian Task Force):
+1-646-358-1465

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-LETTER FOLLOWS-

January 25, 2006

The Honorable Condoleezza Rice
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Secretary Rice,

On behalf of forty U.S.-based organizations advocating for human rights, including the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, we write to express deep disappointment at the United States' actions this week in the Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Committee of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

As you may be aware, both the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA), and the Danish national gay and lesbian organization Landsforeningen for Bosser og Lesbiske (LBL) had applied for consultative status with ECOSOC. The United States abstained on a virtually unprecedented motion to deny these organizations a fair hearing on their application. Still more disturbingly, the United States supported a separate motion to summarily dismiss their applications. The motion to dismiss passed by a vote of 10 to 5 with three abstentions.

Monday's vote represents a reversal of U.S. policy. When ECOSOC voted on ILGA's previous application for consultative status in 2002, the United States joined sixteen other nations in supporting ILGA's application for consultative status.

We hope you will provide the reasons for this reversal. Is it now the policy of the U.S. government to oppose consultative status for all organizations working to promote the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people?

As the State Department's own reporting demonstrates, severe human rights violations based on sexual orientation or gender identity or expression take place in many countries around the world. Arbitrary arrest, torture, and extrajudicial killing are common. We are grateful for the State Department's effort to include these incidents in its annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. We find it incomprehensible that the U.S. government would recognize these human rights abuses-while denying the people subject to them the right to make their case, alongside other respected human rights organizations, before the U.N. It is, moreover, widely recognized that persecution based on sexual orientation or gender identity or expression drives populations vulnerable to HIV/AIDS underground, and contributes substantially to the spread of HIV/AIDS.

As long as human rights abuses against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people occur, it is vital that NGOs working on their behalf are given a place and voice at the United Nations. Applications of three other such organizations are pending before ECOSOC: the European Region of the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA-Europe), Coalition Gaie et Lesbienne du Quebec (CGLQ) from Canada, and Lesben-und Schwulenverband in Deutschland (LSVD) from Germany. We urge you to support these applications. In this week's vote, the U.S. ranged itself on the side of severely repressive governments. As U.S.-based organizations working in the fields of human rights and sexual rights, we are dismayed-and we expect better.

Please reply to Scott Long, Director, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights Program, Human Rights Watch, 350 Fifth Avenue, 34th floor, New York, NY 10018-3299 (tel: 212-216-1297).

Sincerely,


Advocates for Youth

Al-Fatiha Foundation for LGBT Muslims

Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic, Yale Law School

Amnesty International USA

Catholics for a Free Choice

Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE)

Center for Women's Global Leadership

Colombian Lesbian and Gay Association (COLEGA)

Congregation Beth Simchat Torah

Equality Now

Family Care International

Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation

Gay Men's Health Crisis

Global Rights

Human Rights Campaign

Human Rights Watch

Immigration Equality

International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission

International Women's Human Rights Clinic, City University of New York School of Law

Ipas

Jan Hus Church

Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund

Latino Commission on AIDS

L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center

Legal Momentum

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center (New York City)

MADRE

Mano a Mano

Metropolitan Community Churches

National Black Justice Coalition

National Center for Transgender Equality

National Coalition Building Institute Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender Caucus

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

National Center for Lesbian Rights

New Hampshire Freedom to Marry Coalition

Open Society Institute

Queer Progressive Agenda

Queers for Economic Justice

Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S.

Women's Environment and Development Organization


Cc: The Honorable John Bolton, United Nations Ambassador for the United States

The Honorable Richard G. Lugar, Chair, United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee

The Honorable Joseph R. Biden, Jr., Ranking Member, United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee

The Honorable Henry J. Hyde, Chair, United States House of Representatives International Relations Committee

The Honorable Tom Lantos, Ranking Member, United States House of Representatives International Relations Committee

The Honorable Mitch McConnell, Chair, United States Senate Appropriations Committee

The Honorable Patrick Leahy, Ranking Member, United States Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs

The Honorable Frank Wolf, Chair, United States House of Representatives Appropriations Subcommittee on Science, State, Justice and Commerce and Related Agencies

The Honorable Alan B. Mollohan, Ranking Member, United States House of Representatives Appropriations Subcommittee on Science, State, Justice and Commerce and Related Agencies

1 comment:

  1. Congressman Tom Lantos (D-CA) today sent the letter below to the United States representative to the United Nations, Ambassador John Bolton.


    The Honorable John R. Bolton
    Permanent Representative to the United Nations
    United States Mission to the United Nations
    140 East 45th Street
    New York, NY 100017

    Dear Ambassador Bolton:

    I am writing to express my shock and bewilderment in learning of a very harmful and hurtful action taken earlier this week by your staff at the U.S. mission to the UN in New York. As you may now know, U.S. representatives on the Non-Governmental Organization Committee to the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) on Monday supported a hateful anti-human rights motion brought by the Iranian and Sudanese regimes to dismiss the application of the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) and the Danish national gay and lesbian organization Landsforeningen for Bosser og Lesbiske for consultative status to ECOSOC.

    I sincerely hope that the U.S. vote on this issue was a technical error or the unfortunate result of an undisciplined U.S. officer operating on his or her own without instructions. In any case, I am asking you to clearly and publicly disavow and explain this anti-human rights vote before it does any long-term damage to U.S. moral authority at the UN. I would also like to discuss with you, at length, any possible breakdown in State Department procedures that may have led to this most unfortunate U.S. action.

    As you must know by now, the U.S. anti-human rights vote on January 23rd represents a stark reversal of U.S. and Bush Administration policy. When ECOSOC last voted on ILGA’s previous application for consultative status in 2002, the United States joined sixteen other nations in supporting the application.

    We have made a great deal of progress in recent years in advancing U.S. diplomatic efforts to confront state sponsored or initiated bias and violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans-gendered people. In compliance with legislation I authored, the State Department now systematically includes reports on human rights violations based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

    The U.S. vote on Monday is a major setback in our efforts to establish the advancement of rights for lesbian, gay and trans-gendered people as a core component of our Nation’s human rights diplomacy. You can reverse this setback by clarifying our position and explaining the U.S. vote. The United States should also move forward by using UN mechanisms such as the new Human Rights Council to confront hateful regimes like Iran, the Sudan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia who harass, arrest, and even torture and execute their citizens simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

    I look forward to your clarification and for the opportunity to discuss this issue with you in detail.



    Most cordially,



    TOM LANTOS
    Ranking Member

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