Foreign Ministers Issue Declaration Designed to Protect LGBT Human Rights
Washington, D.C. – Human Rights First welcomes today’s declaration on ending violence and discrimination against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity that was issued by foreign ministers meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. The declaration was given at the first meeting on the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, which was attended by the United States. In it, participating countries stated grave concern that LGBT people in all regions of the world continue to face serious and widespread human rights abuses and called for U.N. member states to repeal discriminatory laws, address hate-motivated violence and provide legal protection from discrimination due to sexual orientation and gender identity.
“United States leadership remains crucial in continuing to build recognition that LGBT rights are human rights and that states have a duty to protect all, including LGBT people, from violence,” said Human Rights First’s Duncan Breen. “Today’s declaration sends a clear signal that many other countries share the concern expressed by the UN Secretary-General, who called antigay violence and discrimination ‘one of the great, neglected human rights challenges of our time.’”
Human Rights First has documented violence specifically targeting LGBT people in many parts of the world, including Russia, South Africa, and Uganda. State responses to such violence have differed markedly. While some such as South Africa are taking steps such as introducing legislation to protect against hate crimes, others continue to fail to address violence – with some even blaming LGBT people for being targeted. Last week, Cameroon’s ambassador to Geneva told the United Nations Human Rights Council that murdered LGBT human rights defender Eric Lemembe was killed because of his “personal life.”
Speaking at today’s meeting, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry reiterated U.S. commitment to advancing LGBT rights and confirmed that advancing equality for LGBT people is “fundamental to advancing democracy and human rights, which are at the foundation of American foreign policy.” Secretary Kerry was joined by the ministers of Argentina, Brazil, Croatia, El Salvador, France, Israel, Japan, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, the United States, and the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.
“We welcome Secretary Kerry’s statement of commitment and encourage the United States to continue efforts at the United Nations and on a bilateral basis to share United States’ experiences and challenges in addressing violence and discrimination against LGBT people and get other nations to provide equal rights and protections for all,” concluded Breen.