A United Nations General Assembly panel that met this week broke new ground and helped build new momentum for ending human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity, a coalition of sponsoring nongovernmental organizations said today.
The meeting included discussion of discriminatory and draconian "anti-homosexuality legislation" currently before the Ugandan parliament, and of the role of American religious groups in promoting that bill and homophobia across
The panel, held yesterday on the 61st anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, featured speakers from
The statement from the Holy See said it "opposes all forms of violence and unjust discrimination against homosexual persons, including discriminatory penal legislation which undermines the inherent dignity of the human person. ? [T]he murder and abuse of homosexual persons are to be confronted on all levels, especially when such violence is perpetrated by the State."
Ugandan lawmakers are currently debating the "anti-homosexuality bill." While there were reports that the death penalty provisions might be stripped from the bill, other punishments would remain that would drive many Ugandans underground or out of the country, participants said.
Speaking on the panel, Victor Mukasa, cofounder of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) and program associate for the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLRHC), described how he was forced to leave
"Lack of security, arbitrary arrests and detentions, violence, and killings of LGBT people have become the order of the day in
Also at the panel discussion, the Reverend Kapya Kaoma, an Anglican priest from Zambia who is project director for Political Research Associates (PRA) in Massachusetts, presented the group's new report, "Globalizing the Culture Wars: U.S. Conservatives, African Churches, and Homophobia."
Kaoma said that many anti-LGBT attitudes across
Other panelists highlighted governments' complicity in prejudice and violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Indyra Mendoza Aguilar, coordinator of the Lésbica Feminista Cattrachas network in
Vivek Divan, an Indian attorney and member of the team that led a successful legal challenge to
Speakers also stressed how torture, killings, and other grave abuses target people not just because of their sexuality, but because they look, dress, or act in ways that defy deeply rooted patriarchal norms for expressing masculinity and femininity.
"Now is the time to realize that diversity does not diminish our humanity," said Sass Sasot, cofounder of the Society of Transsexual Women of the Philippines (STRAP). "You want to be born, to live, and die with dignity ? so do we! You want to live with authenticity? So do we!"