While the United Nations has endorsed the rights of GLBT people for the first time ever, the acclaim was definitely not universal. Americans may have called it historic, but in many African and Muslim nations, have expressed their profound disappointment with the UN (response to that).
This represents a historic moment to highlight the human rights abuses and violations that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people face around the world based solely on who they are and whom they love.
–U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton
The major outcome of the resolution will be the establishment of a UN process to document human rights abuses against GLBT people. Same-sex relations are illegal in 76 countries around the world. Harassment and discrimination are common in many others.
This marks a significant milestone in the long struggle for equality, and the beginning of a universal recognition that (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) persons are endowed with the same inalienable rights – and entitled to the same protections – as all human beings,
–White House statement
When we look at the world around us, what are we seeing?
A new study has been released by the Council of Europe documenting the failure of EU member states to enact policies and legislative measures to protect GLBT people. The study took two years to complete.
Millions of people in Europe are discriminated against, stigmatised and victims of violence because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity and cannot fully enjoy their universal human rights.
–Thomas Hammarberg, The CoE’s Commissioner for Human Rights
The study, Discrimination on Grounds of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Europe (pdf) is 135 pages long (No, I haven’t finished reading it yet).
As an aperitif:
As for the question whether a homosexual person should hold the highest political office in the country, it was found in 2008 that people in Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands were the most positive while people in Bulgaria, Cyprus and Romania were the most negative.21 The question was repeated in 2009 and the most negative answers were found in Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey.
That’s relatively interesting if only because Iceland does have a lesbian head-of-state. But they were not part of the survey.
One of the things to come out of the report from the CoE is the criticism of Ireland for failing to recognize transfolk.
In Ireland, it is remarkable that while it is impossible to receive legal gender recognition, there is a relatively simple procedure for a name change.
The report identifies that throughout Europe, there seems to be little teaching material of good quality on LGBT issues, and identifies Ireland as one of the countries where schools “do not provide any information about homosexuality or if so only biased, incorrect information not reflecting the WHO de-classification of homosexuality”.
A separate report, this time from Amnesty International, calls out Turkey for its treatment of its GLBT citizens.
The pdf is called Not an Illness nor a Crime, in response to the following:
I believe homosexuality is a biological disorder, an illness and should be treated”
–Aliye Kavaf, Minister of State responsible for Women and the Family, 2010
The pervasive prejudice against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Turkey and the fear of ostracism and attacks, means that many feel compelled to conceal their sexual orientation, even from their families.
Homophobic statements by government officials have encouraged discrimination against individuals. Rather than repeat past failures, the new government must respect and protect their rights through words and actions.
It is the responsibility of all the parties in the Parliament to ensure that any new constitutional settlement in Turkey outlaws discrimination on grounds of sexuality or gender identity.
Comprehensive legislation to counter discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity is a must – and it should come as soon as possible. However, the authorities must also show the political will to combat discrimination by demonstrating that homophobic public discourse is unacceptable.
–Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International
The report stresses that trans women are left particularly vulnerable and are subject to a disproportionately high number of incidents without legal protection or remedy.
The report also found that, not only do police officials leave trans women vulnerable, there is evidence to suggest that they actively pursue them to levy arbitrary [fines], and that this occurs on a day to day basis.
Discriminatory practices have also been found among the judiciary. Though no laws explicitly sanction penalties for trans identity, the report found evidence to suggest that the judiciary has invoked overreaching penalties for trans individuals who, for instance, may have turned to sex work because they cannot find employment elsewhere due to the fierce discrimination they face.
Culture Minister Marja van Bijsterveldt of the Netherlands pledged 500K Euros to the human rights organization of the Council of Europe to fight discrimination against homosexuals and transgender people.
Ms Van Bijsterveldt said she was upset to hear about bans on gay demonstrations and the continuing hate crimes against homosexual and transgender people, as well as the recent homophobic sentiments expressed in countries like Croatia, Bulgaria and Hungary.
“I find it unacceptable that a large number of Europe’s 50 million homosexuals and transgender people still cannot enjoy their fundamental human rights.”
The report includes evaluations of the situation in all 47 member states of the Council of Europe. The Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark are the top three in terms of social acceptance of homosexual and transgender people.
As was reported earlier in the week by indiemcemopants, the World Health Organizationhas issued the first global public health guidelines aimed at reducing the spread of HIV among men who have sex with men and transpeople (presumably directed towards transwomen).
Well, good on them. As a transwoman, though, I admit that my first reaction was one of chagrin. Once again a major world body has lumped transwomen together with “men who have sex with men”. It has happened so often in the past that it has become no wonder that society at large often considers us “really men”. Education at the top might prove useful, especially if they wish to educate the world on our behalf.
After months of detention at a beggars’ home (I am wondering when such facilities were outlawed in much of the world), a transwoman caught begging in Dehli was ordered released by a Dehli court. Ravi was sentenced to two years in the beggars’ home but a second judge ruled that “the transgender had a right to lead a life of dignity and earn a livelihood.”
The appellant undisputedly is a transgender and it is a hard fact that in our society, transgenders are being shunned even today. It is difficult for them to get even menial jobs. The impugned judgment is also totally silent and does not reflect nor is there any material on record to show the circumstances in which the appellant was living.
–Judge AK Chawla
Closer to home in Puerto Rico the targeted assaults on gays and transpeople has, if anything, been kicked up a notch.
“He kept saying, ‘Faggot! You have no right to exist!’ ” said Gonzalez, a 41-year-old transsexual. “I’d cry and scream, ‘What happened? Why are you hitting me?’ He said: ‘For being like that.’ ”
Gonzalez’s vertebrae was broken and right breast implant ruptured in the April beating, making her a survivor of a series of deadly attacks against transgender and gay people in Puerto Rico. When transgender teenager Jorge Steven Lopez was decapitated, dismembered and set ablaze in November 2009, it marked the start of what activists say is an escalating wave of hate crimes in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
Eighteen gay and trans people have been killed since the attack on Ms. Lopez. Earlier in June, there were three murders in a single week.
A lot of church people are not teaching peace and to “love thy neighbor”. They are teaching to hate gays. For me, the people who do this are men who know they are gay and don’t want to be.
And it seems not too much different than the rest of the United States in many ways…and yes, Puerto Rico is part of the US.
The attacks come amid growing fundamentalist rhetoric on the island, where senior politicians are often influenced by conservative religious leaders who speak out publicly against homosexuals. Even as arrests are made and long sentences handed out, experts here say murders and harassment have continued, because the government has failed to implement anti-discrimination policy and remains largely mute on the disturbing trend.
In Puerto Rico, gay and transgender people say, it has become socially acceptable to despise them – especially men who dress as women.
The charter commits signatories to challenge discrimination and work to rid sport of homophobic and transphobic abuse both on the stands and in the field, so that everyone can take part in and enjoy sport.
There is no room for hate of any kind, anywhere in sport.
But too many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people feel that the sports field is not somewhere they can be themselves, and that prejudice and discrimination will mean their sexuality is always talked about more than their ability with a ball, bat or racket.
Sport should be about what you can do, not who you are. I want to see anybody and everybody who loves sport sign the Charter for Action and commit to kicking homophobia and transphobia out of sport for good.
–Theresa May, Home Secretary
Meanwhile a post-operative transwoman, Victoria Saxe-Coburg, 20 years post-transition, was told she could not use the women’s facility at Poole stadium, but would have to indeed use the facility for the disabled.