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South Africa and Brazil demand UN action on gay rights

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  1. Jock S. Trap 4 Jul 2012, 9:50am

    Hats off to South Africa and Brazil for taking a positive stand and highlighting the issues our brothers and sisters face in the world.

    I suspect we’ll get the usual bigoted suspects but in all this is a positive step highlighting the problems we face in the world.

    We mustn’t forget though that most of the sexual assaults, imprisonment, torturing and being murdered is based solely on backward religious beliefs. We cannot ignorance where the root of this problem stems and whilst protecting religion and their so called freedom we continue to allow their hatred.

    Well done to South Africa, Brazil and the UN for wanting to make a difference in people’s lives!

  2. That There Other David 4 Jul 2012, 10:07am

    *stands and applauds*

    Wonderful step from two regional powers that have great influence on their neighbours. Thank you to both countries for showing that ignorance and bigotry don’t have to dominate. The likes of Russia are shown up for the backwards fools they are without a negative word being uttered. Great stuff.

  3. Great to see South Africa and Brazil taking a strong lead on this.

    Of course other countries are doing good work too suchas the US, UK and others.

    Personally, I feel that the stance taken at the UN conference in Geneva earlier this year must not be allowed to stagnate and thus the determination of these nations to keep this high on the agenda of the UN is to be applauded and encouraged.

    Furthermore, South Africa and Brazil are exactly the kind of countries (with encouragement and dynamic support from others) which will be more readily listened to by many of those countries which seek to oppose the correct view that gay rights are human rights, than the UK, US etc. African and Asian countries are more likely to listen to S Africa and Brazil than perceived western colonialists.

    It is important that we strongly support S Africa, Brazil and the UN in all they do and seek to do in this regard.

    It is true that dialogue with those nations who oppose gay rights and an understanding of

    1. cultural issues. That does not mean we should allow “cultural sensitivities” to be excuses to dilute human rights, but enter into dialogue and seek to persuade, change and be agents of change.

  4. Keith Farrell 4 Jul 2012, 11:01am

    I am so glad that we worked so hard to make equality a right in South Africa, now it is one of two countries standing up to the world.
    I returned to the UK last year, I am still waiting for this “first world country” to step up and say equality is a human right. seems they are too busy to worry about equality.
    It would be nice if the country also stepped forward about equality and did not have to be drayed out shouting and kicking against equality

    1. Keith Farrell 4 Jul 2012, 11:03am

      draged out shouting and kicking against equality

    2. What was achieved in South Africa was amazing.

      Sure, its not a perfect state – but legally equality is real – achieving that in everyday life may take a little longer – but the mechanisms and structure is in place.

      South Africa in partnership with Brazil and perhaps others such as Norway, Holland and Spain (UK if they sort themselves out a bit!) should be a great power for good globallyw ith regards LGBT rights.

  5. South Africa has positioned itself firmly as a global leader in the protection of the rights of gay, lesbian and transgender people. In the UN debate in March it played a key role in preventing a walkout of other African states.

    The UN have accepted that there is a continued discrimination and violence against sexual minorities and described it as “a monumental tragedy for those affected and a stain on our collective conscience”. Its imperative that the UN use actions as well as words to demonstrate this – and that South Africa, Brazil and others hold them to account.

    Thanks to South Africa’s leadership on this matter, the African bloc position against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights is breaking up. In the UN debate in March there was no African walkout (unlike Islamic states) and some countries including Senegal and Nigeria softened their responses compared to previous UN statements. This is hugely encouraging. More needs to be done though.

  6. The UN Human Rights Council do not have the best record.

    Members of the United Nations Human Rights Council were visibly upset last week when one of its leaders criticized both Cuba and Venezuela’s governments. In his critique, the speaker insinuated that Cuba, already a member of the council, and Venezuela, currently applying to become a part of the Council, both violate human rights.

    The leader of the Human Rights Foundation Thor Halvorssen explained to the council that his mother, in 2004, had been shot by Venezuelan security forces. He continued to state, “Through the Human Rights Foundation, which I founded and direct, I have carefully monitored the Venezuelan state and have established that its current government is among Latin America’s worst human rights violators.” According to Halvorssen, more than 150,000 people have been killed since Chavez took office in 1999. In response to Venezuela’s application into the council, he states, “To elect Venezuela would shame and

    1. embarrass this council, and would allow Venezuela to shield its horrendous record of abuse. Venezuela’s presence would also validate other authoritarian governments such as Syria, Iran and one that disgracefully sits on this council, Cuba.”

      Cuban ambassador, Juan Antonio Quintanilla Roman, responded angrily to these accusations and demanded the chairman, Gulnara Iskakova of Kyrgyzstan, stop the proceedings. Roman continued to respond, “The speaker is out of line. It is possible to refer to human rights situations in this council, but one cannot question under any context the aspirations or hopes of states to become members of the Human Rights Council.”

      Halvorssen was cautioned to proceed carefully by the chairperson, Iskakova. Halvorssen then resumed his statement by saying, “In December, four authoritarian governments, China, Cuba, Saudi Arabia and Russia will step down. You have a golden opportunity…” At this moment, his statement was interrupted and he was not allowed to

    2. continue. His prepared statement however reads, “You have a golden opportunity to prevent more human rights violators from soiling this council. Please block Venezuela’s bid and uphold your own standards.”

      Halvorssen said in an article in the Huffington Post: “NGOs are allotted several minutes to say their peace and contribute to the debate about rights. I sat down to deliver my speech and no sooner had I mentioned the word “Cuba” in the context of human rights violations than the Cuban delegation began to create a scene, complete with banging their fists on the table and kicking over a chair, to force the council president to interrupt my speech on a point of order. It was as if a crime had been committed. Cuba, Russia, China, and Pakistan all loudly protested. The council’s president immediately cut me off. Cuba stated it would not permit such language in the council. Russia aligned itself with Cuba and stated that the human rights council had its own agenda. Russia accused me of

    3. violating procedure. China went further and demanded that I be prohibited from continuing with my presentation as it was out of the scope of what I was “permitted” to say. In other words, mentioning human rights violators like Cuba or China (the only country with an imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize laureate), at the human rights council, in the time allotted to an NGO focused on human rights, is considered an unseemly deviation from the agenda.”

      He went on to say “I went to Geneva to leave testimony, for posterity given the demonstrable inefficacy of this august UN body, but I didn’t expect that the dictatorships represented in the room would behave like a perfectly choreographed set of villains, as one would expect a dictatorship to behave. I was unable to finish but I didn’t have to — they proved my point.

      Outside the council, several country delegates approached me and thanked me for my “courage.” How pitiable that it is considered courageous, inside the United Nations, which sits

    4. in a free country, Switzerland, to say a few words that could upset governments that should be pariahs. And to think that those who came over to me said they had to do so discreetly fearing that the Cuban delegation “might give us a lot of trouble.” No less than two European powers are afraid of a bankrupt police state in the Caribbean whose main exports are broken dreams, exiled political prisoners, and failed revolutionary ideas. No wonder the Human Rights Council is so dysfunctional. The only delegate to interact with me on the floor of the council was a diplomat from Sweden.”

      He concluded by saying “The experience was a powerful reminder that those who fear freedom of speech are those with something to hide. The truth, in Russia, China, Cuba, and Venezuela, is a frightful thing to the criminals in charge.”

      Its great to see Brazil and South Africa seeking to improve LGBT rights – but the UN body they seek to influence is dysfunctional because those in power seek to deny rights.

  7. Kudos to South Africa and Brazil. Too bad Canada, France, Netherlands, UK and US did not join them.

  8. Thank you, South Africa and Brazil. If only LGBT community would have more allies like you two, the hope to achieve equality everywhere is not just a pipedream anymore.

  9. Coenie W. Kukkuk 5 Jul 2012, 11:05pm

    Great – but what is the South African government doing in its own backyard where no less than 6 LGBTI people were murdered in hate crimes in the past few weeks alone? Further, only one conviction so far after all the very many so-called ‘corrective rapes’. “Pink-washing” at the UN is not enough when these atrocities are allowed to happen almost on a daily basis in South Africa (see more on SA’s biggest LGBTI portal,

    1. I am sure S Africa should do more.

      However it is better than most (if not all) of its African cousins. The legal system of equality is already in place.

      They have invested in a task team to tackle anti-gay hate crime and murders. They undoubtedly need to do more to change culture and deal with serious issues.

      However, the law is equal. They are investing in some measures (could do better). They are seeking to change their neighbours and global partners. Its wrong to say S Africa are pink washing – they are leading the way compared to many others.

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