Monday, January 30, 2006

Coalition of the Homophobic

The United States has joined an Iran-led coalition to deny United Nations consultative status to two NGOs working on LGBT issues without a hearing. Isn't is reassuring that despite our increasingly hostile relations over nuclear weapons, we can always find common ground in some good ole fashion persecution. The Brussels based International Lesbian and Gay Association and the Danish gay rights group Landsforeningen for Bøsser og Lesbiske applied for consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council in May of last year. Special consultative status allows NGOs to attend sessions, make statements, participate in policy debates, and propose items for consideration. There are over 2700 NGOs with this status. In 2002, the US had supported consultative status for the ILGA yet has not given any official reason for the change in position. In voting to deny status, the US joins Cameroon, China, Cuba, Iran, Pakistan, the Russian Federation, Senegal, Sudan, and Zimbabwe, or in other words amazing leaders in human rights. The LGBT community while facing severe discrimination in this country faces even more dire conditions in many of the countries who voted to deny status. Iranian law declares male homosexual conduct to be a capital offense. The president of Zimbabwe has blamed gay people for all of Africa's ills and has labeled them "people without rights." This atmosphere of hatred makes the purposefully keeping the voices of LGBT groups out of the official debate on standards and norms of international law/customs especially dangerous. Human Rights Watch has penned an open letter to Condoleeza Rice calling for an explanation. The US has a history of standing in pretty miserable company when it comes to our conservative social agenda and the UN. We stand alone with Somalia (which doesn't have a recognized government) when it comes to not having ratified the Children's Rights Convention or the Women's Convention. I know that we should be at a point where hate-based decisions no longer surprise me, but I just can't get there.

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-A. Monkey