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LGBT Voices from the UN / 2005

in SIERRA LEONE, 11/05/2005

Some States retain colonial laws that criminalize same-sex sexual activity and non-normative sex and gender expression. In fact, some of these laws have been extended in the name of religion and culture

Item 6: Racism, Racial Discriminiation, Xeonophobia and all Forms of Discrimination

Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network

Chairperson, distinguished delegates,

My name is Hudson Tucker and I am speaking on behalf of the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network which has links with many organisations including the Sierra Leone Lesbian and Gay Association of which I am the Country Coordinator. Last year, my predecessor, Fanny Ann Eddy addressed this Commission. I replaced her in September when she was brutally murdered whilst she was working late at the offices of the Sierra Leone Lesbian and Gay Association.

Despite efforts by some States to dismiss our issues as “new rights that are contrary to religious and cultural values”, our sexual orientation is as much a part of our identity as our race, our faith, or our gender. As the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action recognises, human rights are indivisible and interrelated, and it is meaningless to accord human rights protection to one part of our identity, such as our race, sex or religion, but to deny it to another part of our identity, such as our sexual orientation or gender identity.

Lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgendered people experience the world differently depending on their race, sex, age, class, disability, culture, religion, language and other factors. The struggle against one form of oppression cannot in practice be separated from the many other struggles for equality in which members of our communities – and the international community generally - are engaged.

We note with dismay that some States retain colonial laws that criminalize same-sex sexual activity and non-normative sex and gender expression. In fact, some of these laws have been extended in the name of religion and culture. We reject this political use of religion and culture that enforces colonial and patriarchal values, and promotes fundamentalisms and extremism of all kinds.

We face a troubling contradiction: on the one hand, rich and diverse global advocacy on sexual and gender diversity; and on the other, a climate of hatred and violence targeted toward marginalized groups. Many countries are committed to advancing our rights, as they have stated publicly and privately. However, unequal power relations and coercive tactics often force this support underground.

Lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender people confront harassment from police; abuse by our neighbours and our families; and violence and brutality—sometimes punitive rape.

At the same time, we have and have always had a place in our communities. Despite the pressure of prejudice, many of our families do not succumb; many of our neighbours, co-workers, and friends continue to love and to support us. Many of our communities continue to affirm that we are an integral part of their web of relationships.

We say to you: we are part of your countries and constituencies. This Commission must break its silence and recognize us as full and equal members of the human family. We must acknowledge, embrace and celebrate the diversity of human kind. To do less is an insult to the foundation of the UN system.
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