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Gay Rights Are Human Rights: Advancing LGBT Protections At The UN



 A Landmark occasion for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender human rights.

Guest post by Peter Dunne, International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission  

At the United Nations Human Rights Council March 2012 meeting in Geneva, an expert panel was convened to discuss the first-ever UN report focused on violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity: “Discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity,” ( A.HRC.19.41.)

Navi Pillay, High Commissioner for the Human Rights addresses during the Panel discussion on the issue of discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity, 19th Human Rights Council. Room XX, Palais des Nations, Geneva. Wednesday 7 March 2012. Photo by Violaine Martin (UN Photo/Violaine Martin)

The document, published by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights at the close of 2011, identified widespread and systematic rights violations that LGBT individuals are subject to around the world. Given that less than ten years ago much of the UN was silent on even the most extreme atrocities committed against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender  (LGBT) people, this event represents a truly historic moment.

The High Commissioner’s Report presents significant opportunities for advancing human rights as well as raising important questions.

First, what role should international law play in protecting LGBT individuals?  The report clearly refutes arguments that international human rights do not apply to violations committed on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. At the same time, it might also serve as a guide to those countries that seek to achieve change through bilateral channels.

In October 2011, British Prime Minister David Cameron announced that the U.K would consider conditioning foreign budgetary aid on the repeal of anti-gay laws. His comments were criticised as an example of neo-colonialism and as a failure to appreciate the sensitivities of sexual politics in the Global South. In some countries, homosexuality is seen as a ‘western’ idea, imported by the United Kingdom and the United States to undermine local values.

The new report illustrates that international law is a viable and perhaps more neutral alternative to bilateral diplomacy. Resulting from a South African-led resolution (Res. 17/19), the report challenges the suggestion that homosexuality is a ‘western’ notion. The many references to sexual orientation and gender identity in the official documents of the UN Treaty Bodies and of the UN Special Rapporteurs are evidence that LGBT rights are now firmly established within the international human rights framework.

Second, what is the importance of decriminalization in any LGBT rights strategy?  Today, seventy-six countries worldwide apply criminal penalties to same-sex conduct. Criminalization leaves LGBT persons vulnerable to State persecution and legitimises other forms of abuse, such as social stigmatization and hate crimes.  While the repeal of discriminatory laws must be a long-term aim, can there be a justification for focusing resources on short-term goals which do not reach the level of full decriminalization?

According to some governments, homosexuality and transgenderism are seen as being in fundamental conflict with cultural and religious traditions. In such environments, it may be counterproductive to prioritize full decriminalization. Where a societal framework does not permit even the mention of homosexuality, can one actually begin to debate anti-gay laws?

In many countries, it is not only the existence of homophonic laws but the discriminatory manner in which they are applied that affects people’s daily lives. In such circumstances, it may be most effective to focus immediate resources on working at the local level, within the existing legal framework, to ensure the greatest possible security for LGBT communities.

Finally, what are the needs of LGBT people beyond decriminalization?

In 1996, South Africa became the first country in the world to constitutionally prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Yet, despite legal protection, LGBT individuals in South Africa continue to experience discrimination and violence. In March 2006, Zoliswa Nkonyana, a nineteen-year old lesbian, was stoned to death by a Cape Town mob who accused her of being a “tomboy” who “wanted to be raped”.  Nkonyana’s killers were finally brought to justice six years later, with four men each receiving prison sentences for the killing.

Zoliswa Nkonyana’s story illustrates that even where legal protections have been introduced public education is critically important. By courageously taking the lead at the UN and making LGBT rights a priority in its foreign policy, the Government of South Africa has struck a blow for LGBT equality that hopefully will encourage a level of social acceptance domestically and globally which mirrors its own existing legal protections.

The frank and open discussion of LGBT rights in Geneva supported by South Africa’s lead and fed by the High Commissioner’s report were indeed historic…but only if the messages and lessons learned are carried forth to positively impact the day-to-day lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people around the world.

Top: UN 19th Human Rights Council - Human Rights Council – 19th Session
The Panel discussion on the issue of discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity, 19th Human Rights Council. Room XX, Palais des Nations, Geneva. Wednesday 7 March 2012. Photo by Violaine Martin

(UN Photo/Violaine Martin)

and Navi Pillay


Peter Dunne (image, left,) is Harvard Law School Kaufman Fellow, and the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Comisssion  2011-2012 Global Advocacy Intern.


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Fox News Host Claims ‘Whites Are a Minority in California’ So Dems Want ‘On-Ramp’ for Undocumented Immigrants to Vote



Fox News personality Jesse Watters is making undocumented claims about undocumented immigrants and voting in California, the nation’s most-populous state, along with false claims about voter ID and precisely which race is the majority in the Golden State.

“Didn’t Democrats say that Blacks were incapable of handling an ID to vote?” Media Matters reports Watters, who has been criticized numerous times for racism. said Monday on Fox News’ “The Five.”

That’s false.

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“Many Americans do not have one of the forms of identification states acceptable for voting,” the ACLU says. “These voters are disproportionately low-income, racial and ethnic minorities, the elderly, and people with disabilities.  Such voters more frequently have difficulty obtaining ID, because they cannot afford or cannot obtain the underlying documents that are a prerequisite to obtaining government-issued photo ID card.”

That’s very different from falsely claiming Black Americans are “incapable of handling an ID.”

Watters went on to say, “But, I guess illegal aliens are perfectly capable of having a state-issued ID to use it for welfare.”

That too is false.

Undocumented immigrants are almost exclusively ineligible for federal government welfare programs.

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“What I think is going on here is, right now, whites are a minority in California. Hispanics are the majority race in that state,” Watters claims.

Depending on your definition, that’s false, according to the U.S. Government.

Those who reported being “white alone or in combination” with another race is listed as 54.6% for California for the actual 2020 Census. “White alone” is listed as 41.2%.

“Hispanic or Latino” is listed as 39.4% of the population in California. “Not Hispanic or Latino” is listed at 60.6%.

“And white Democrat politicians like Gavin Newsom see the writing on the wall and they’ll do anything they can to cling to the political machine,” Watters claimed. “Now, this looks like an on-ramp to voting, if I was just being suspicious. But, being suspicious has made me very, very successful.”

The segment began with “Judge’ Jeanine Pirro saying “Liberal states and cities from coast to coast putting illegal immigrants over their own residents.” Pirro was lamenting a bill Newsom signed into law she says that will allow “illegal immigrants to acquire a government-issued state ID.”

Just before the 2016 election Watters did a man-on-the-street segment in New York City’s Chinatown and for nearly five minutes engaged in racist, anti-Asian, and downright offensive behavior. Vox’s Libby Nelson put it this way: “Fox News fit an impressive number of offensive Asian stereotypes into 5 minutes.”

Watch below or at this link.


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No ‘Semblance of a Campaign’: Five of Trump’s Candidates for Governor Air Zero TV Ads Combined



Former President Donald Trump’s picks for governor in five states are facing media scrutiny after failing to air a single television advertisement since winning their primaries.

In a report on Monday, The New York Times revealed that Pennsylvania candidate Doug Mastriano “is being heavily outspent by his Democratic rival, has had no television ads on the air since May.”

“There’s no sign of cavalry coming to his aid, either: The Republican Governors Association, which is helping the party’s nominees in Arizona, Michigan and six other states, has no current plans to assist Mr. Mastriano, according to people with knowledge of its deliberations,” the paper added.

Matt Brouillette, the president of a conservative advocacy group, slammed Mastriano in remarks to the Times.

“I can’t even assess things because I don’t see a campaign,” Brouillette said. “I’ve not seen anything that is even a semblance of a campaign.”

According to the report, Mastriano’s lackluster campaign is not unusual among Trump’s preferred candidates.

“Along with Mr. Mastriano in Pennsylvania, Trump-backed candidates for governor in five other states — Arizona, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts and Michigan — have combined to air zero television advertisements since winning their primaries,” the report said.

Over the weekend, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) vowed to campaign against Mastriano and other Trump-endorsed candidates who push lies about the 2020 presidential election.

“I think we have to do everything we can in ’22 to make sure those people don’t get elected,” she told the Texas Tribune Festival. “We have to make sure [Doug] Mastriano doesn’t win.”

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‘We Need to Go All the Way’: GOP Lawmaker Brags Her ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill ‘Goes Further’ Than Florida’s But Not Far Enough



A far right Republican state lawmaker in Pennsylvania who has worked to get prayer into schools is pushing a “Don’t Say Gay” bill and bragging that it goes even “further” than Florida’s, but wants it to be even broader.

Republican state Rep. Stephanie Borowicz denies her legislation is a “Don’t Say Gay” bill, but as PennLive reports it states public and charter schools “may not offer instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity to a student in kindergarten through fifth grade.”

Rep. Borowicz admits that although her bill expands on Florida’s which technically bans discussion of LGBTQ issues until after third grade, she wants it to be even more broad.

“It is patterned after the Florida bill, but mine goes further,” she said. “It really needs to be protected up through 12th grade, we need to go all the way.”

She does not state what “it” is.

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PennLive reports Borowicz supports similar legislation, Senate Bill 1278, “which would allow schools to be sued for material that is ‘not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate’ at any grade level.”

The Pennsylvania Republican Party’s gubernatorial nominee, Christian nationalist Doug Mastriano, also supports the “Don’t Say Gay” bills.

Like other state’s bills, the language is intentionally broad and undefined, which experts say is intentional to create fear among teachers to steer clear away from any issue that might come near to the ban.

“Asked what sort of communication would constitute ‘instruction’ under the bill, Borowicz said, ‘I’m not going to get into the details of all that.'”

Last week when announcing her new anti-LGBTQ bill, Rep. Borowicz called for the Pennsylvania Secretary of Education to resign, “because LGBTQ-inclusive curricula and other resources were featured on the Pennsylvania Department of Education site,” WITF reports.

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“Everything from gender neutral days and classrooms, from 3rd to 12th grade to a tutorial on gender pronouns and instructions for teachers to ask before making false assumptions about someone’s gender identity,” Borowicz said.

Borowicz, who was first elected in 2018, she is the first woman and only the second Republican to hold that seat.

“The mission of keeping my word to the people of the 76th Legislative District starts immediately,” she said upon being sworn in.

Borowicz’s bio frequently mentions she was the “president of a nonprofit organization,” while rarely explaining what that nonprofit was.

In 2018 Borowicz “said it was for Make A Stand USA, an organization she and her sister created to get prayer gatherings at schools in 2010. She said it was her sister who paid for it and no money was made for the one event it sponsored. Two years later, she said, it was disbanded,” The Record Online reported.

Rep. Borowicz is a big fan of prayer, but the ways she has used it has caused outrage, even among her follow House colleagues.

Months after she was sworn in, an newly elected state representative, who is Muslim, was sworn in.

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Borowicz delivered the House’s invocation that day, and by the time it was over she had mentioned “Jesus” thirteen times. She was accused of weaponizing pray and Islamophobia and antisemitism.

“God forgive us — Jesus — we’ve lost sight of you, we’ve forgotten you, God, in our country, and we’re asking you to forgive us, Jesus,”Borowicz said, as HuffPost reported.

“She also prayed for President Donald Trump and thanked the president for ‘unequivocally’ supporting Israel.”

“I claim all these things in the powerful, mighty name of Jesus, the one who, at the name of Jesus, every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess, Jesus, that you are Lord, in Jesus’ name,” she also proclaimed.

Think Biblically reports she also said, “thank you for this honor, Jesus. God, for those who came before us like George Washington at Valley Forge and Abraham Lincoln who sought after you at Gettysburg, Jesus, and the founding fathers in Independence Hall, Jesus, that sought after you and fasted and prayed for this nation to be founded on your principles and your words and your truths.”

“Jesus, I thank you for this privilege, Lord, of letting me pray, God, that I Jesus am your ambassador here today. Standing here, representing you — the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, the Great I Am, the one who is coming back again, the one who came died and rose again on the third day,” she prayed.

Watch Rep. Borowicz’s prayer below or at this link.




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