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Saturday 10 October 2009

Nations sign up for global gay law reform

Posted in: Features
By Calum Bennachie - 12th December 2008

Vexing the Vatican: A gay couple kisses in St. Peter's Square
Between 15-20 December, a statement organised by France will be read at the United Nations General Assembly. Seeking an end to discrimination against LGBT people, and a measure of decriminalisation, part of this statement says:

"We urge States to take all the necessary measures, in particular legislative or administrative, to ensure that sexual orientation or gender identity may under no circumstances be the basis for criminal penalties, in particular executions, arrests or detention."

This is important. There has been no similar call before the UN as a whole before. Nevertheless, it should be remembered, this is merely a statement, not a declaration, or resolution. As such, there is no vote, and it is not binding.

There are currently, as at 12 December 2008, 58 countries (listed below) have signed on to support the statement. This is a small number, but it is also significant. While the "usual suspects" are there in the list of supporters, including New Zealand, Gabon, an African country, and one of the few to support the statement, is currently going to read the statement.

Significantly, the US has made no commitment. But opposition is being led by the Vatican, which, given their record on LGBT issues, should come as no surprise. They teach that LGBT people are intrinsically disordered, and actively discriminate against us- all the time while claiming to oppose "unjust" discrimination against us. They are supported in their campaign by the Organisation of Islamic States, which includes Iran, a country that regularly kills LGBT people.

As usual, the Vatican has been less than honest in its opposition, claiming it would decriminalise same sex unions, and that it would force countries to do so. This is false. There is no mention in the statement about decriminalising same sex unions, and as a statement, not a resolution, it does not "force" anyone to do anything.

This hypocrisy, breaking one of their own commandments about bearing false witness is not unusual. Nor is their hypocrisy. They have also claimed that "no one wants the death penalty or jail or fines for homosexuals". Yet by opposing the statement, they are supporting Iran and others who imprison us and kill us for not being straight. Effectively they are saying "it's wrong to unjustly discriminate, but we have justifiable reasons for doing so" (god says so), and "while people shouldn't be killed for being gay, we support Iran and others doing so".

That's just plain wrong.


There are 192 States of the United Nations, and one observer state (the Vatican).

Countries supporting the UN statement for an end to discrimination against LGBT people:

1 Andorra

2 Argentina

3 Armenia

4 Australia

5 Austria

6 Belgium

7 Bosnia and Herzegovina

8 Brazil

9 Bulgaria

10 Canada

11 Cape Verde

12 Central African Republic

13 Chile

14 Croatia

15 Cyprus

16 Czech Republic

17 Denmark

18 Ecuador

19 Estonia

20 Finland

21 France

22 Gabon

23 Georgia

24 Germany

25 Greece

26 Hungary

27 Iceland

28 Ireland

29 Israel

30 Italy

31 Japan

32 Latvia

33 Liechtenstein

34 Lithuania

35 Luxembourg

36 Malta

37 Mexico

38 Montenegro

39 Netherlands

40 New Zealand

41 Norway

42 Poland

43 Portugal

44 Romania

45 San Marino

46 Serbia

47 Slovakia

48 Slovenia

49 Spain

50 Sweden

51 Switzerland

52 The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

53 United Kingdom

54 Uruguay

55 Venezuela

And in the last 24 hours: Nepal, Cuba and Albania in that order.

Expected to join with their support in the next few days are Paraguay, Colombia, Bolivia and Guatemala.

Calum Bennachie - 12th December 2008

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