Monday, March 23, 2009

The United Nation's Flawed Effort to Decriminalize Homosexuality


Map showing where homosexuality is punishable by death, where it is outlawed, and selected members of the United Nations Human Rights Council (Click to Enlarge)

President Barack Obama has come out in favor of human rights by pledging to support a United Nation's statement calling for the decriminalization of homosexuality. The proposed statement stays away from Western-world controversial issues like civil unions and instead focuses on decriminalization.

Unfortunately this statement, if it can pass despite fierce opposition, will mean nothing. The main supporters of the bill are European Union members and the United States. The west began abolishing anti-homosexual laws starting with revolutionary France in 1791. The homosexual debate has transformed away from basic human rights to other matters. The places where homosexuality is where the statement is being opposed and where the statement will be ultimately ignored by the respective governments.

The one place where human rights reform might have a chance in the United Nations is the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC). Sadly this is not a friendly place for those who wish to decriminalize homosexuality. Nearly a third of all UNHRC member countries outlaw homosexuality with two member states, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia, authorizing the death penalty for homosexuality. So the council has only specifically denounced Israel for human rights violations and has focused over half its time on Israel alone. The fact a large section of council supports continued criminalization (the president of the council is from Nigeria which has the death penalty for the "crime") makes it clear the United Nations does not take all rights seriously.

Until violations of human rights is taken seriously by the United Nations nothing will change. Western countries will continue to push for statements calling for expansion of Western/liberal ideas and these countries will feel good about their actions. Meanwhile, homosexuals, ethnic minorities, religious minorities, and others will continue to be arrested and executed in the streets by their oppressive governments. It will be like nothing happened.

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