This past Friday, June 17th, was a remarkable day for the advancement of international lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights.
The United Nations Human Rights Council adopted the first ever UN resolution on the human rights of LGBT persons.
All people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, enjoy the full range of human rights, without exception. But all too often across the globe LGBT people are targets of discrimination and horrific acts of violence.
Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity continually leads to abuse in the form of violence, imprisonment, torture, or even execution. These methods of persecution, which include criminalization in many places, violate the human rights of LGBT people.
By condemning acts of violence and discrimination committed against individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity, this resolution is an important step forward in placing LGBT rights on the global human rights agenda. As Eileen Donahoe, the U.S. Ambassador to the UN Human Rights Council, remarked, the resolution expresses:
“this idea that people deserve to be protected regardless of who they are and who they love and how they want to live their lives.”
We hope this positive step is the first of many by the international community to ensure the protection of the human rights of LGBT people.
And this progress is the perfect opportunity to take action to help end the many ongoing human rights violations that the LGBT community continues to face. For example, in Botswana, under Penal Code Section 164, homosexuality is criminalized and punishable with prison time. Botswana must decriminalize homosexuality to prevent this human rights violation. Action by Botswana would be particularly crucial as Botswana wields significant influence with its African neighbors. By supporting its LGBT citizens and pressuring its neighbors to do the same, Botswana has the opportunity to be a human rights leader on this issue. Take action here to encourage Botswana to decriminalize homosexuality.
In Cameroon, arrests, prosecutions and trials of gay men occur on a regular basis. Jean-Claude Roger Mbede has been sentenced to 36 months in prison for homosexuality, a criminal offense under Section 347a of the Cameroonian Penal Code. He is currently serving his sentence and is at risk of physical attack and other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment on account of his real or perceived sexual orientation. Amnesty International considers Jean-Claude Roger Mbede to be a prisoner of conscience, imprisoned solely because of his sexual orientation. Call for the immediate and unconditional release of Jean-Claude Roger Mbede.
Join us in the fight to secure full equality and safety for LGBT people. We must build upon the exciting work of the UN Human Rights Council by shining a light on the need for human rights for all. Take action now by downloading the 2011 Pride Kit with information and resources on how you can join us in ending discrimination against LGBT people around the world.