Canada and New Zealand statement at the UNCHR in support of the Brazilian resolution
Statement delivered Friday April 16 2004 at the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) by New Zealand, on behalf of Canada and New Zealand. "I have the honour to speak on behalf of Canada and New Zealand.
Nearly sixty years ago, our governments joined together to place human rights
at the forefront of international relations. We were appalled by the gross
violations of human rights and the denial of life and freedom to millions of
people throughout the world.
The result was the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In that
Declaration, we declared that all human beings are equal in dignity and in
rights without discrimination of any kind. This is the principle of non-
discrimination. It lies at the heart of the Declaration and of all of the
human rights standards that have followed. It is the distillation of the
values inherent in all philosophical traditions and religious beliefs.
That principle is universal. We have to live up to it.
Discrimination against people on the grounds of their sexual orientation takes
place in all too many countries. That is a reality. We cannot ignore it.
And we cannot pretend it does not exist. It is silence that allows human
rights abuses to flourish. It is silence that allows misunderstanding and
mistrust to grow into fear, intolerance and discrimination.
The United Nations has been silent on sexual orientation for far too long. It
is time to break that silence. The issue should be on the agenda and the
Commission should respond. A failure to speak out can only be interpreted as
condoning discrimination and prejudice.
We recognise that this is a difficult and complex issue but we are not
prepared to compromise on the equality in dignity and rights of all people.
It is time to start talking. We hope this Commission will not remain silent
for much longer.