|85 nations sign UN statement defending LGBT people|
In what LGBT advocates described as "a stunning development for the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights," 85 nations signed a pro-gay statement that was read out by Colombia's representative at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva on March 22.
The statement "express(es) concern at continued evidence in every region of acts of violence and related human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity" and "call(s) on states to take steps to end acts of violence, criminal sanctions and related human rights violations committed against individuals because of their sexual orientation or gender identity."
"Today's statement enjoyed the support of the largest group of countries to date on the topic of sexual orientation, gender identity and human rights," said several LGBT organizations and other "civil society" groups in a joint media release. "It builds on a similar statement delivered by Norway at the Human Rights Council in 2006 (on behalf of 54 states) and a joint statement delivered by Argentina at the General Assembly in 2008 (on behalf of 66 states). It is clear that every time these issues are addressed there is measurable increase in state support."
The nations that signed the statement are Albania, Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Central African Republic, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mexico, Micronesia, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nauru, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Palau, Panama, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Rwanda, Samoa, San Marino, Serbia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Tuvalu, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States of America, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela, and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
Nigeria's representative spoke against the statement, purportedly on behalf of the council's Africa Group. The representative said the terms "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" are undefined, talked about God, and said it takes a man and a woman to make a baby. At the end, however, he said that laws that criminalize sexual orientation should be expunged.
Pakistan also spoke against the statement on behalf of an official bloc of 57 majority-Muslim nations. Russia opposed the statement, as well, saying it rejects discrimination and violence against LGBT people but should be allowed to limit rights for reasons of public morality. The representative reportedly said that "these people" should not be granted special rights.