REFOCUS BY GERARD VELDHOVEN
The United Nations Human Rights Council has elected some new members to serve in what seems to be a slap in the face for human rights advocates and the people who are under the thumb of right wing ideologies. Among these nations are China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Vietnam, Algeria and Morocco.
The process is based on equitable geographical locations instead of philosophies of equal rights and equal treatment. Aside from the many atrocities committed in these countries, gay and lesbian citizens of the above-mentioned countries are harassed, beaten and some have the death penalty in place.
Russia has made it abundantly clear what their policy is against gay society within its borders.
The General Assembly has failed miserably by allowing these nations to sit on such an important council that is supposed to have equal rights as its foremost concern.
Perhaps we have it all wrong. It is entirely possible that it is nothing more than a front in an attempt to just please countries that openly practise discrimination. If we don’t make a noise maybe it will not be noticed. In other words, this may be a non-issue as far as the Human Rights Council is concerned.
I am certain that most recall the year not so long ago that Canada was chastised by the UN for not treating aboriginal peoples as anyone else who are residents of this country. Countries that have a terrible record on human rights should not be named to this council as they have little or nothing to contribute aside from discriminatory actions and homophobia.
This world body that last year called for equal rights for gays and lesbians has faltered badly in this case. The UN’s Human Rights Council seems unable, or indeed unwilling, to change direction to change the many wrongs that countries such as these inflict on their citizens, regardless of sexual orientation. The nations that are on the council, including the United Kingdom and South Africa, stand alone in an effort to find peace and dignity for the world’s gay and lesbian populace.
We, in the Western World have much to celebrate as most countries have equal rights written into law. Even as we have laws in place to protect us, equal treatment has yet to take hold. 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.