Posts Tagged ‘Gay Rights’
Israel has joined a group of United Nations member states calling for the institution’s first gay rights declaration, an initiative which has met with resistance by an Arab-backed opposition.
The declaration that was presented Thursday at the UN General Assembly calls for decriminalization of homosexuality.
Syrian representative read out a statement drafted by the opposition, arguing that the declaration would result in more sex crimes against children.
France and the Netherlands initiated the declaration following the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 60th anniversary that was marked earlier this month.
“This is the first time in history that a group of member countries voices its objection to discrimination that is based on sexual identity and orientation,” said Dutch foreign minister, Maxime Verhagen. “The issue is no longer taboo,” he added.
The United States, Russia and China have abstained on the matter.
The nonbinding declaration was read out by Argentina at a plenary session, and so far diplomats promoting it have gathered 66 supporting signatures.
UNITED NATIONS: An unprecedented declaration seeking to decriminalize homosexuality won the support of 66 countries in the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday, but opponents criticized it as an attempt to legitimize pedophilia and other “deplorable acts.”
The United States refused to support the nonbinding measure, as did Russia, China, the Roman Catholic Church and members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference. The Holy See’s observer mission issued a statement saying that the declaration “challenges existing human rights norms.”
The declaration, sponsored by France with broad support in Europe and Latin America, condemned human rights violations based on homophobia, saying such measures run counter to the universal declaration of human rights.
“How can we tolerate the fact that people are stoned, hanged, decapitated and tortured only because of their sexual orientation?” said Rama Yade, the French state secretary for human rights, noting that homosexuality is banned in nearly 80 countries and subject to the death penalty in at least six.
France decided to use the format of a declaration because it did not have the support for an official resolution. Read out by Ambassador Jorge Argüello of Argentina, the declaration was the first on gay rights read in the 192-member General Assembly itself.
Although laws against homosexuality are concentrated in the Middle East, Asia and Africa, more than one speaker addressing a separate conference on the declaration noted that the laws stemmed as much from the British colonial past as from religion or tradition.
Navanethem Pillay, the United Nations high commissioner for human rights, speaking by video telephone, said that just like apartheid laws that criminalized sexual relations between different races, laws against homosexuality “are increasingly becoming recognized as anachronistic and as inconsistent both with international law and with traditional values of dignity, inclusion and respect for all.”
The opposing statement read in the General Assembly, supported by nearly 60 nations, rejected the idea that sexual orientation was a matter of genetic coding. The statement, led by the Organization of the Islamic Conference, said the effort threatened to undermine the international framework of human rights by trying to normalize pedophilia, among other acts.
The Organization of the Islamic Conference also failed in a last-minute attempt to alter a formal resolution that Sweden sponsored condemning summary executions. It sought to have the words “sexual orientation” deleted as one of the central reasons for such killings.
Yade and the Dutch foreign minister, Maxime Verhagen, said at a news conference that they were “disappointed” that the United States failed to support the declaration. Human rights activists went further. “The Bush administration is trying to come up with Christmas presents for the religious right so it will be remembered,” said Scott Long, a director at Human Rights Watch.
The official American position was based on highly technical legal grounds. The text, by using terminology like “without distinction of any kind,” was too broad because it might be interpreted as an attempt by the federal government to override states’ rights on issues like gay marriage, American diplomats and legal experts said.
“We are opposed to any discrimination, legally or politically, but the nature of our federal system prevents us from undertaking commitments and engagements where federal authorities don’t have jurisdiction,” said Alejandro Wolff, the deputy permanent representative.
Gay-rights advocates brought to the conference from around the world by France said just having the taboo broken on discussing the topic at the United Nations would aid their battles at home. “People in Africa can have hope that someone is speaking for them,” said the Rev. Jide Macaulay of Nigeria.
The youth arm of Sweden’s largest gay rights group has expressed fury at educational material distributed by two major tampon manufacturers.
The two companies, Libresse and OB, are accused by RFSL Ungdom of providing teachers with sex education material that “reinforces offensive norms and opinions”.
One of the books indicates that, for young people, the idea of being homosexual “is enough to send a shiver down their spine.” There is also a passage that states: “If you are a Muslim, you may not be allowed to have a girlfriend or boyfriend”.
In another section, Muslim girls concerned that they might not bleed on their wedding night are advised to contact a gynecologist who can sew stitches in their vaginal opening.
“Libresse and OB ought to be ashamed of themselves for giving out material that is so heteronormative and in many ways racist,” said Felix König, chairman of the youth faction of RFSL, the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights, in a statement.
The two makers of women’s hygiene items have pooled their resources to compile sex education material for pupils aged 13-14 and 15-16.
RFSL Ungdom said it believed the two educational packages produced by the companies ran counter to laws protecting Swedish schoolchildren from exposure to offensive material.
“We hope all schools that have distributed this material gather it back in and throw it away. Pupils shouldn’t have to read offensive opinions. We are also going to contact Schools Minister Jan Björklund,” said Felix König.
By JOHN SEEWER
TOLEDO, Ohio — The firing of a college administrator over her criticism of gay rights has sparked a debate about free speech and whether universities have the right to regulate what employees say outside of their jobs.
Crystal Dixon filed a lawsuit Monday in federal court seeking to be reinstated to her University of Toledo job, which she lost after writing in a newspaper column that gay rights can’t be compared to civil rights because homosexuality is a choice.
“I take great umbrage at the notion that those choosing the homosexual lifestyle are ‘civil rights victims,’” Dixon wrote in an online edition of the Toledo Free Press on April 18. “Here’s why. I cannot wake up tomorrow and not be a black woman.”
She also wrote: “There are consequences for each of our choices, including those who violate God’s divine order.”
Two weeks later, Dixon was fired as the school’s associate vice president for human resources. School officials said her views contradicted university policies, according to the lawsuit.
Though Dixon’s attorneys say other school administrators were not punished for expressing their opinions, the public university defends its actions.
“We have asserted from the beginning that Ms. Dixon was in a position of special sensitivity as associate vice president for human resources and this issue is not about freedom of speech, but about her ability to perform that job given her statements,” university spokesman Larry Burns said in a statement.
Dixon did not mention in the column that she worked at the university, but she did defend the school’s benefits plans and how they apply to gay employees.
In response to the column, hundreds of people wrote letters calling her views disturbing while others were outraged Dixon was punished for speaking her mind. Conservative talk show hosts and members of her church rallied around Dixon after she was fired.
“It comes down to whether you’re speaking as an employee of the university or as a private citizen,” said Brian Rooney, a spokesman for Thomas More Law Center in Ann Arbor, Mich., which is representing Dixon. “If you’re speaking as a private citizen, your speech is protected.”
The university would have been within its rights to discipline her if she had stated she was a school administrator, Rooney said.
The nonprofit Christian law firm says its mission includes “defending the traditional family and challenging special rights for homosexuals.”
“Where is the so-called free expression of ideas and tolerance that universities so adamantly defend?” said Richard Thompson, president of the law center.
Named as defendants in the lawsuit are University of Toledo President Lloyd Jacobs and William Logie, vice president for human resources.
Jacobs responded to the column by writing his own piece in the weekly newspaper, saying that “her comments do not accord with the values of the University of Toledo.”
Cyndi Lauper was supposed to conclude her world tour over the weekend with a concert in Caracas, Venezuela — but according to PerezHilton.com and a blog posting on one of her fan sites, the concert was canceled because of her support of gay rights.
According to the posting, Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez canceled the concert because he “had fear of political protests.” He also allegedly opposed Lauper’s endorsement of President-elect Barack Obama and her outspoken support of gay rights.
Lauper is expected to comment on the canceled concert in a blog posting on her official website, www.CyndiLauper.com. Lauper was touring in support of her latest album, Bring Ya to the Brink. (Advocate.com)
Commission to vote tonight on gay rights
BY REX HALL JR.
KALAMAZOO — City commissioners are scheduled to vote tonight whether to implement an ordinance that would ban discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation.
The Equal Rights Ordinance is aimed at protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered individuals from discrimination in the areas of housing, employment and public accommodations.
“I expect that there’s sufficient support from the commissioners to pass this ordinance,” said Jim Rodbard, former president of the ACLU of Michigan who worked closely with the Kalamazoo Alliance for Equality’s political action committee in bringing the proposed ordinance before city commissioners.
“We worked together to find something that is lawful and enforceable and it’s a good thing for the city of Kalamazoo,” said Rodbard, who is a local lawyer.
If passed, the ordinance would apply to private and public sectors, although there would be some exemptions, including churches and individuals who are seeking to rent out part of a residence in which they are living.
Violations of the ordinance would be referred to City Manager Kenneth Collard and could be punishable by a fine of no more than $500, plus costs of the action.
The proposed ordinance was given a first public reading during the City Commission’s meeting two weeks ago. No public comments were made about the ordinance at that time.
The city of Kalamazoo and Kalamazoo County previously adopted an Equal Employment Opportunity statement that says sexual orientation should not be considered in hiring employees.
However, the protection outlined in the statement is limited to employees of city or county government and applicants for jobs within city or county government.
Tonight’s City Commission meeting will start at 7 at City Hall, 241 W. South St.
I have read reports on Christian web-sites — though none in legitimate press — of physical violence and vandalism of Gay Rights Supporters towards Christians and Mormons. I’m certain that much of it is exaggeration, but still urge those to resist the temptation of violence and vandalism.
Have they resisted their temptations of the same? Certainly not, or I wouldn’t be typing names of GLBT deceased into our sister web-site, The PATH Project (thepathproject.wordpress.com) on a daily basis. And should we feel anger? Certainly. We had basic human rights stripped from us, and we’ve had another layer of stigma placed upon us. But we have to rise above this to move forward with our goal of achieving Equality. We need to lick our wounds, learn from mistakes, and look to the future.
Though we understand your frustration, and the need to scream to be heard, please make the religious groups aware of their ignorance through peaceful means such a letter writing campaigns, boycotts and marches.
Having moved from the Midwest to California, I have learned a valuable lesson, which is to state calmly, not yell, that I am gay. I worked in many conservative, small town office buildings, where I presented myself exactly as they were. I set out photos of my daughter on my desk, and exchanged recipes and some gossip. I became their friend and gave lifts home from work when needed. Only after they got to know me, did I “come out”. I never lost a friend and one office included in their employment handbook a clause on discrimination due to sexual orientation.
Sometimes the best way to achieve your goal is not by slapping them in the face with it, but by holding their hand.
Gay-rights activists plan to protest a Boulder theater that will show a movie about a gay-rights pioneer because, despite the movie, the theater’s chief executive supported a California ban on same-sex marriages.
Among those expected to attend Sunday’s protest at Century Boulder Theatre is Congressman-elect Jared Polis, the first openly gay congressional candidate from Colorado.
Cinemark-Century CEO Alan Stock donated $9,999 to the Yes on 8 Campaign, approved by California voters this month. The proposition prohibits same-sex marriage and has sparked other protests by gay-rights activists.
Most of their ire has been directed at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which also contributed heavily to the pro-Proposition 8 camp.
But Cinemark-Century — which owns Century Boulder Theatre — is being targeted because in December it will begin showing the film “Milk,” the story of San Francisco’s Harvey Milk, a pioneer in the gay-rights movement.
It’s ironic that a film honoring Milk will enrich the man who contributed to the downfall of equal rights for gays in California, said Johann Moonesinghe, a Boulder resident and organizer of Sunday’s protest.
“We are not going to support a theater whose owner took away a large portion of our rights,” Moonesinghe said.
Protesters want supporters to see “Milk” at another theater. Stock has every right to contribute to any campaign he likes and Cinemark has every right to show the movie, Moonesinghe said. But gays also “have a right to take our money elsewhere as well,” he said.
Polis and his partner, Marlon Reis, are expected to join 100 or so other protesters at the Century Boulder Theatre between 3 and 4:30 p.m. The complex is at 28th Street and Canyon Boulevard.
“I think it’s great people are voting with their wallets and hopefully going to see this movie elsewhere,” Polis said. “Seeing it here (Century Boulder Theatre) contradicts everything Harvey Milk stood for.”
Polis said he will ask Stock to make an equal contribution to a gay-rights cause.
“I think the company should make at least a good-faith effort and if they are willing to do that, I think they have an opportunity to regain the loyalty of the gay and lesbian community,” Polis said.
Stock couldn’t be reached for comment. But in a statement released this week, the Dallas-based Cinemark sought to separate Stock’s contribution from the company.
“Cinemark did not make any financial contribution to either side on the Proposition 8 vote in California,” said James Meredith, vice president of marketing and communications for Cinemark USA Inc. “The company does not take a formal position on political issues that do not directly affect our business.”
SYDNEY: Australian lawmakers have passed new laws giving gay and lesbian couples many of the same rights as their heterosexual counterparts but have ruled out legalizing same-sex marriages.
After a low-key debate late Monday, the Senate passed amendments to around 100 family, health and taxation laws that give same-sex couples access to the same services as opposite-sex couples living together in “de facto,” or common law, relationships.
Among the major changes, gays and lesbians will be allowed to get family benefits under the state-run health care program and to leave their retirement benefits to their partners if they die. The changes also confer parental rights on gay and lesbian couples with children.
While the laws give same-sex partners many of the same rights and protections as married couples, they stop short of allowing gays and lesbians to wed under the Marriage Act, which was redrawn by the last conservative government to define marriage as between one man and one woman.
When the governing Labor Party unseated its conservative rivals in 2007, it did so in part on a promise to end discrimination against gays and lesbians. But party leaders have said that pledge does not include a push to legalize same-sex marriages.
“It won’t be part of this government’s agenda,” Attorney General Robert McClelland told the national broadcaster on Tuesday. “The Labor Party policy is firm that marriage is between a man and a woman.”
Only a handful of countries recognize same-sex marriages, including Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, South Africa and Spain. Around 20 other countries recognize some form of civil union for same-sex partners.
In Australia, civil unions are recognized in only two states – Victoria and Tasmania – and the Australian Capital Territory, the area around Canberra.
The introduction of the new laws provoked little dissent in Australia, where discrimination against gays and lesbians is generally low. The debate Monday was opened by the minister for climate change and water, Senator Penny Wong, who is openly gay.
The changes passed without opposition through the Senate, with support from both major parties. The laws now go before the Labor-controlled House of Representatives, where they are expected to pass without controversy.
“I think the most successful aspect of the passage of the legislation is just how noncontroversial it’s been,” McClelland said. “I think the Australian community thinks it’s something that should have been done – and should have been done a long time ago.”