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Birgit Hardt, ILGA Europe Public Affairs Officer
ILGA Europe

in BELGIUM, 12/03/2004

Speech given at the European Parliament

" Nearly 80 countries still treat same-sex consensual relationships a criminal offence, punishable by death in at least seven states" said Birgit Hardt, ILGA Europe Public Affairs Officer in a speech at the European Parliament (Brussels, 3 February 2004).

In April 2003, the Brazilian delegation to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights introduced an historic resolution prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The resolution – was co-signed by Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Croatia, Cyprus, New Zealand, Poland, Serbia and Montenegro, Slovenia and Switzerland subsequently joined. Supported by Korea, Japan, some Latin American and Eastern European countries, it elicited strong opposition from a number of countries. After prolonged debate, the UN/CHR voted to postpone further discussion on the resolution to the 2004 Commission session, due to commence in March.
ILGA, the International Lesbian and Gay Association urges all governments to prioritise the protection of LGBT people at the next UN Commission on Human Rights by co-sponsoring the resolution. ILGA suggests that the notion of "gender identity" be included in the final version of the resolution to be proposed by Brazil at the UNCHR next March.
LGBT persons throughout the world continue to experience harassment, humiliation, verbal and physical abuse relating to their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. This ranges from homophobic rethoric, abuse by state actors such as the police, to violence and harassment by their own communities and families. Many states are complicit in the persecution of LGBT persons. Numerous governments openly incite hatred against LGBT persons. Nearly 80 countries still treat same-sex consensual relationships a criminal offence, punishable by death in at least seven states.
Transgender people are particularly at risk of hate-induced violence, abuse and - in some cases - murder. They are visible and vulnerable to the effects of hatred in almost every culture, daily confronting some of the worst abuses inflicted on those who fail to conform to socially enforced norms. Despite similairities in the abuse, the term "sexual orientation" is insufficient to protect transgender people. It is crucial to explicitly include gender identity as a ground of protection in the resolution. Non-inclusion would in fact be a fundamental contradiction to the underlying principle of the draft resolution, namely the condemnation of all kinds of discrimination and the affirmation of the universality of human rights.
A resolution on human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity would not define any new rights or novel standards. It reaffirms and spells out the principles that underpinned numerous decisions and reports by UN Special Rapporteurs, treaty bodies and the UN Commission on HUman RIghts itself.
ILGA urges all governments to actively contribute to a UN resolution that affirms the universality of human rights and offers protection to those persons most vulnerable to human rights abuses. ILGA urges all governments to work towards a strong and clear resolution: do not water down the text until all protections offered are rendered meaningless. We need a resolution that reaffirms LGBT rights as human rights.
Beyond the mere symbolic, it would be a clear message that the international community no longer tolerates the perpetuation of violence, persecution and abuse of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people.

Birgit Hardt, ILGA Europe

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