REFOCUS COLUMN BY GERARD VELDHOVEN
A few weeks ago, the United Nations announced it would urge world nations to respect and protect members of the global LGBT community. A huge plan, if it indeed is implemented. This world organization has a tough job ahead and will encounter many obstacles. However, I am optimistic that it will go ahead.
The problem lies within the various countries that belong to the United Nations. Russia, for example, has just passed new laws forbidding any “homosexual propaganda” within its borders. What sort of influence is needed to reverse these archaic ideas and laws?
Another country that limits gays and lesbians is China, a powerhouse on the world stage, politically and economically. In all, one third of the world’s countries consider same-sex marriage conduct a criminal offence. Penalties range from imprisonment to execution.
Of the 193 member states, 94 have signed on to the declaration in support of LGBT rights and 57 are opposed. At this point, 46 countries have not officially supported or opposed the declaration. These figures translate into a growing consensus that support is growing. However, those nations, where punishment is the way to deal with this issue, these rogue areas are considered archaic in thought and detrimental to the well being of their citizens. Killings, suicides, beatings and other inhumane behaviour is the plight of our LGBT brothers and sisters in too many nations where the laws support such actions.
The United Nations must be congratulated to initiate such a declaration. However, the task is ominous and must be worked on with determination, as well as complete sincerity. This will not be accomplished overnight and I stress that this may take many decades and even centuries to see a major result. Slowly, but surely, improvements will happen if only at a modest pace.
The question remains, how will this be supervised and will leaders of countries such as Canada, The Netherlands, South Africa, Spain and others where equal rights are in place, provide leadership, not only in words, but with positive action? The influence of many nations is needed to reverse archaic laws and inhumane treatment. For comments and information: firstname.lastname@example.org
Gerard Veldhoven is a longtime activist for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. His column appears Wednesdays in The News.