Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 12 / 22 March 2018

UN dumps gays


Participants march in this year's gay Pride Parade in Vilnius, Lithuania. Photo: ILGA-Europe
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The United Nations General Assembly voted November 16 to remove a reference to sexual orientation from a resolution on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.

The resolution urges member states to protect the right to life of all people and calls on them to investigate killings based on discriminatory grounds. For the past 10 years, the resolution has included sexual orientation in a list of discriminatory grounds on which killings are often based.

The amendment to remove sexual orientation was sponsored by the African nation of Benin. The vote was 79-70 with 17 abstentions and 26 absences.

"This vote is a dangerous and disturbing development," said Cary Alan Johnson, executive director of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission. "It essentially removes the important recognition of the particular vulnerability faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people – a recognition that is crucial at a time when 76 countries around the world criminalize homosexuality, five consider it a capital crime, and countries like Uganda are considering adding the death penalty to their laws criminalizing homosexuality."

The General Assembly's move "flies in the face of the overwhelming evidence that people are routinely killed around the world because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation and renders these killings invisible or unimportant," IGLHRC added in a joint statement with ARC International.

Voting to remove sexual orientation from the resolution were Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belize, Benin, Botswana, Brunei, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, China, Comoros, Congo, Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, North Korea, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia, Rwanda, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Syria, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Yemen, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Voting to keep sexual orientation in the resolution were Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bhutan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Mexico, Micronesia, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Samoa, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Timor-Leste, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

Abstaining were Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belarus, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Colombia, Fiji, Mauritius, Mongolia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. Absent were Albania, Bolivia, Central African Republic, Chad, Dominica, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Honduras, Kiribati, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Nauru, Nicaragua, Palau, São Tomé and Príncipe, Seychelles, Solomon Islands, Togo, Tonga, Turkey and Turkmenistan.

Lithuanian no-promo-homo bill fails in first vote

Lithuania's Parliament on November 17 narrowly rejected a bill that would have banned public promotion of homosexual relations.

The vote was a first reading; the second reading, or next vote, will occur in December.

According to the Lithuanian Gay League, the measure would impose fines or jail time for "promoting homosexual relations in public places" or "financing of the promotion in public places."

"If these amendments are ultimately adopted, the Lithuanian government will have the authority to prosecute on an extremely wide variety of actions and activities," LGL said. "These actions include, but are not limited to, campaigning on human rights issues relating to sexual orientation and gender identity, providing sexual health information to LGBT people, the organization of gay film festivals, and organizing and/or attending pride events."

Amnesty International has denounced the proposals, saying, "It is hard to believe that a member of the European Union should even be considering the adoption of such legislation."

Last year, Lithuania enacted the "Law on the Protection of Minors Against the Detrimental Effect of Public Information."

It bans information that promotes sexual relationships, "denigrates family values" or encourages a non-heterosexual concept of marriage and family in any sort of location where such information could be accessed by a minor.

Leading Polish activist claims police beat him

Leading Polish gay activist Robert Biedron of the Campaign Against Homophobia was arrested by police November 11 while protesting at a Warsaw march by right-wing groups.

Biedron says police "brutally" beat him. Police say Biedron assaulted a police officer.

Biedron has filed a complaint against one officer with prosecutors. He denied charges that he grabbed a cop's baton and hit the officer in the face with it.

"We are appalled and saddened by the conduct of the police," said CAH's Tomasz Szypula. "We fail to understand how such situations can still take place in a democratic state."

Australian states tackle same-sex marriage

Following in the footsteps of the state of Tasmania, the Australian state of South Australia will see introduction of a bill in the state Parliament to legalize same-sex marriage.

MPs from the Greens and Labor parties will lead the charge.

Polls show that a majority of Australians support letting gay couples get married.

French court to rule on same-sex marriage

France's Constitutional Council will decide within three months whether same-sex marriage should be legal.

The council was assigned the task by the Court of Cassation, the highest appeals court, in a case that originated in a lower court in Reims.

In assigning the case, the appeals court said that times change, morals evolve, and other countries let same-sex couples marry.

France has a civil-partnership act that grants same-sex couples some rights of marriage.

Same-sex marriage is legal in Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Mexico City, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Washington, D.C.

Bill Kelley contributed to this report.

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