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Momentum for Equality

in WORLD, 23/02/2005

Beijing + 10 Review and Women’s Global Charter for Humanity

From 28 February to 11 March 2005 the UN Commission on the Status of Women in New York will conduct the ten-year review and appraisal of the Beijing Platform for Action (Beijing + 10) on discriminatory legislation against women. Many other events are connected to this important appointment, namely the worldwide launch of the Women’s Global Charter for Humanity on 8 March and the world relay of this Charter to start on 8 March in Brazil and end on 17 October in Burkina Faso.

Lesbians have been present in the fight against laws that discriminate against women since Beijing in 1995 and even before. Yet neither the Beijing Declaration or the Platform for Action contain provisions that explicitly recognize lesbians as having the same rights as other women. The question of equal rights for lesbians has never gone beyond the level of discussion at UN governmental conferences on the situation of women. To be fair, it should be noted that during the preparations for Beijing in 1995 several NGOs defended a proposal to include prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in the Beijing Platform for Action. But as only a few governments supported the proposal it was not incorporated into the final text. The rights of lesbians were once again diluted in a more general demand on women's sexual autonomy.

The same goes with the Women’s Global Charter for Humanity, the fruit of a consultation process with women and lesbian groups in 60 countries. It was initially decided to include discrimination based on sexual orientation. It was however subsequently removed from the final version in order to have the Charter accepted by the most conservative governments.

ILGA deplores that lesbians, in spite of the fact that they are the most vulnerable minority, are hardly ever mentioned. However, we are pleased that the final version of the Charter mentions homophobia as a source of discrimination and clearly states that all women are free to choose their sexuality.

The Beijing + 10 event and all the related activities this year are the chance for all of us to keep the world’s attention focussed on women’s and lesbian issues in the general struggle for gender equality.

For more information you can consult the following websites

Beijing: context and background information

Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action

World March of Women

Women's Global Charter for Humanity
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