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UN Gay Rights Vote Result Of Growing Global Support for LGBT Rights



The United Nations this week, in an historic vote led by the United States and cosponsored by 85 countries, voted to condemn violence against LGBT people around the world — in stark contrast to a vote last November that initially allowed gays to be executed without cause. How did it happen? What are the roots of this new-found tolerance and support? Columbia University human rights professor and Eurasia expert Tanya Domi points to Eleanor Roosevelt and Hillary Clinton as two pieces of a very large puzzle as she explains the backstory.

Despite horrific incidents of violence perpetrated against gay people from New York City to Moscow, from Kampala to Sarajevo and from Dakar to Tehran, Wednesday’s burgeoning, supportive vote by the UN Human Rights Council that condemned violence against persons for their sexual orientation or gender identity and affirmed that international human rights values and principles apply to sexual minorities, was actually set in motion in Vienna in 1993, when the UN convened the World Conference on Human Rights–called by many historians a “rare and defining moment.”

Read: “UN Condemns Violence Against LGBT Persons Ahead Of Ugandan Anti-Gay Bill

The 1993 Vienna conference convened member states for a review and affirmation of human rights laws and practices in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), adopted in 1948 and drafted under Eleanor Roosevelt’s visionary leadership — arguably her greatest legacy. With Rene Casio, a Canadian lawyer, Roosevelt rhetorically and intellectually through the drafting of UDHR sought to achieve the human rights aims originally contained in the UN Charter through the direct participation of non-state actors, whom she described as “a curious grapevine that would penetrate closed societies and could potentially transmit the messages of human rights abuses to the international community.”

At the founding of the UN there were approximately 41 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) registered with the UN and over the years these numbers have grown exponentially into the thousands.

Also over the years, through the Helsinki Process and the opening up of Eastern Europe, the fall of the Berlin Wall, followed by the Anti-Apartheid campaign against the former South African regime and into the 1990s, women globally began insisting that women’s rights are human rights too, eventually articulated by then-First Lady Hillary Clinton at Beijing in 1995.

Thus the human rights moment presented at Vienna almost two decades ago was a culmination of NGO advocates’ efforts over many years of work, representing hundreds of non-governmental organizations from across the world descended upon the World Conference demanding a greater direct role in the UN human rights processes. The NGO activist presence at the Vienna Conference ultimately persuaded 170 Member States to support the transformation of the UN human rights regime by creating the UN Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights, originally envisioned at the founding of the UN in 1945.

The other main UN instruments that support its human rights mandate include the Economic and Social Council, originally established under the United Nations Charter as the principal organ to coordinate economic, social, and related work of the 14 UN specialized agencies, functional commissions and five regional commissions. The Human Rights Commission, now known as a council, meets three times a year and has a 10 point standard agenda that shapes the work and focus of the council throughout the year.

But the establishment of the Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights at Vienna is viewed by scholars and many advocates as the ultimate actualization of  “We the people,” as described under the UN Charter.  The Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, articulated in 1993, lays out the High Commissioner’s mandate and roadmap to advance human rights policy and work at the UN. (Here is a detailed action guide on processes of the Human Rights Council.)

This past Wednesday, during the discussion on follow-up and implementation of the Vienna Declaration of the agenda, 85 countries called for an end to anti-LGBT violence and were joined in support by 118 NGOs who signed a Joint Statement in celebration of this “stunning” vote, thus formally affirming human rights for LGBT people in the Human Rights Council by growing numbers of supportive States.

It is my belief that U.S. foreign policy is leading the way forward  to secure human rights for LGBT peoples globally, by the Obama Administration with Secretary Clinton articulating it most forcefully, stating “gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights,” echoing her transformative words about women rights at Beijing 16 years ago.

Among the U.S. based NGOs that have been active on LGBT human rights issues and signed onto the joint statement of support present in Geneva this week included the Council for Global Equality, The Center for Women’s Global Leadership, based at Rutgers University, Human Rights First (formerly known as the Lawyer’s Committee,) Human Rights Watch, The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, Queer African Youth Network , and The American Jewish World Service (headed by Ruth Messinger, former NYC Councilwoman and candidate for Mayor.)

Read: “UN Vote Allowing Gays To Be Executed Result Of Political, Religious Fundamentalism

The Uganda LGBT community was represented by more than 10 NGOS and  among activists present included the highly respected Ugandan lesbian activist Kasha Jacqueline. Also attending and signing onto the Joint Statement of Support was the European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, ARC International (Canada and Switzerland) the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (Canada, Mexico and South Africa) and The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (New Delhi and London.)

Much work remains to be done  to formally establish human rights protocols that provide protections to persons who are sexual minorities, as more than 70 UN Member States continue to prosecute people because of their sexual orientation. Naysayers use “cultural relativist” arguments against the inclusion of LGBT recognized rights, such as the African Union and other con arguments offered by Pakistan, for example, asserting that the Human Rights Council was setting about to create a new set of human rights that has no legal foundation in any existing human rights instruments. Nonetheless, Wednesday’s vote at the UN Human Rights Council is a watershed moment marking the universality that human rights are LGBT rights and strongly indicates a new impetus in the UN’s continual advance toward realizing human rights for all people, including those who happen to be gay.

Tanya L. Domi is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University, who teaches about human rights in Eurasia and is a Harriman Institute affiliated faculty member. Prior to teaching at Columbia, Domi worked internationally for more than a decade on issues related to democratic transitional development, including political and media development, human rights, gender issues, sex trafficking, and media freedom.

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‘Sodom and Gomorrah’: ND Republican Unleashes Anti-LGBTQ Christian Nationalist Rant Calling for ‘Christ Is King’ Laws



North Dakota state Representative Brandon Prichard, a Republican who co-sponsored legislation that was passed in to law that bans all gender confirming surgeries and medication for minors in his state, went on an anti-LGBTQ Christian nationalist tirade including a call for state ordinances to declare “Jesus Christ is King.”

“Every conservative state should put into code that Jesus Christ is King and dedicate their state to Him. Force RINOs to say no to Jesus and then brutalize them in elections. We need a government of Christians, not fakers,” wrote Rep. Pritchard Sunday evening.

Pushback came swiftly, from politicos including former Republican and former U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh, who responded saying, “Not in this country. Never. Our Constitution won’t allow it. And that’s a damn good thing. Shame on you.”

Rep. Pritchard’s remarks in recent days have taken on a similarly strong Christian nationalist theme.

READ MORE: ‘Part of the Authoritarian Playbook’: Trump’s Courthouse Rant Slammed by Fascism Scholars

“Here is a simple test to determine if you are conservative: Should the church of Satan or satanic temple be allowed the freedom to worship in the same way as Christians? If you answer yes, you need to rethink your claimed political identity because you are not conservative,” he wrote Friday.

Later that same day he added, “Real conservatives will never put the constitution above natural law. The constitution is only useful insofar as it forces our government to limit power and pursue objective truth. It is a powerful means to an end, nothing more, nothing less.”

Over the weekend Pritchard issued a call to ban pornography, saying it “serves no positive benefit in society, destroys men, and treats women as objects.”

A social media account that appears to be for the adult site Just for Fans mocked him, writing on social media, “If you want to cancel an account, please contact our customer service department.”

READ MORE: McCarthy ‘Could Be a Former Speaker by the End of This Week’: Report

Also over the weekend Pritchard called for any Republican who thinks children should be allowed to attend drag shows be “censured or expelled from the party.”

He then wrote he was “extremely disappointed” with North Dakota State University “over their decision to have two homecoming kings and NO homecoming queen. People will be mad when I introduce a bill next session to say that state-funded schools cannot pick homecoming royalty of the same sex, but I didn’t start the fight.”

Pritchard also declared, “All schools should have LGBTQ history taught and lesson one should be Sodom and Gomorrah.”

Monday morning the lawmaker claimed, “All I want is to buy some land, raise a family, and mind my own business. Everything changes when you realize the left is militantly against this existence and will do everything to destroy our families and religion. We must take power or risk being controlled, it’s simple.”

The North Dakota state constitution requires lawmakers to take an oath that reads: “‘I do solemnly swear (or affirm as the case may be) that I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of North Dakota; and that I will faithfully discharge the duties of the office of _________ according to the best of my ability, so help me God’ (if an oath), (under pains and penalties of perjury) if an affirmation, and any other oath, declaration, or test may not be required as a qualification for any office or public trust.”



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‘Part of the Authoritarian Playbook’: Trump’s Courthouse Rant Slammed by Fascism Scholars



Inside New York’s State Supreme Court in Manhattan, Donald Trump unleashed his anger on the first day of Attorney General Letitia James’ $250 million civil fraud lawsuit that has already led to the judge ordering the ex-president’s business licenses be revoked and his businesses dissolved.

One of Trump’s rants was highly-criticized by a fascism expert who compared it to language used by authoritarian strongmen including “Mussolini, Hitler, Berlusconi, Erdogan.”

Trump told reporters Monday the New York fraud case “is a continuation of the single greatest witch hunt of all time.” He described Justice Arthur Engoron as a “rogue judge” and Attorney General James as a “racist attorney general” and a “horror show,” and the case against him “a scam” and “a sham.”

READ MORE: McCarthy ‘Could Be a Former Speaker by the End of This Week’: Report

Ruth Ben-Ghiat, a New York University professor of history and Italian studies, responded to Trump’s remarks, saying “the witch hunt/victimhood rhetoric is part of the authoritarian playbook and was/is used by the following corrupt leaders: Mussolini, Hitler, Berlusconi, Erdogan. If extended to the whole country being victimized, add Putin, Xi, and more.”

Fascism expert Federico Finchelstein, a historian and history department chair at New York’s New School for Social Research, responded to Trump’s comments: “Fascist lies are about the projection onto others of what fascists are/do. Trump today as usual displayed his wannabe fascist mindset.”

Sherrilyn Ifill, the former President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF) exclaimed, “So he’s in the courthouse calling the judge ‘rogue’ and calling the prosecutor ‘racist.’ Not on the steps outside the courthouse (bad enough) but inside the very courthouse.”

READ MORE: ‘These Are Our National Secrets’: Democrat Slams GOP for Ignoring Trump Classified Documents Found ‘In the S——’

Trump also told reporters at the courthouse Monday that he’s been indicted because he’s running for president. Multiple reports have revealed he announced his White House run in an effort to avoid prosecution.

Watch the videos above or at this link.

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McCarthy ‘Could Be a Former Speaker by the End of This Week’: Report



At noon on Monday as the House opens for business U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) may file a motion to oust Speaker Kevin McCarthy for crossing the aisle and working with Democrats to avoid a federal government shutdown just hours before midnight on Saturday.

The Florida lawmaker, who is blamed by his fellow Republicans for leading the shutdown charge, has very publicly blamed Speaker McCarthy for the crisis. On Sunday he vowed to end McCarthy’s leadership. McCarthy said he’s unafraid, but how he can keep his job without the help of House Democrats is being questioned, and if he does, how he governs his volatile GOP conference is also being questioned.

“Bring it on,” McCarthy said on CNN.

READ MORE: ‘Bad News’ for Sidney Powell as First Trump Co-Defendant in Georgia RICO Case Takes Plea Deal: Legal Expert

The Speaker also added, “let’s start governing.”

McCarthy’s call to “start governing” followed months of news reports detailing House Republicans’ infighting.

At the end of July, Axios ran a headline that read: “Congress gets a timeout after dysfunctional summer.”

“House members finally reached their August recess this weekend after a string of unusual, and at times contentious, incidents that clouded efforts to avoid a government shutdown,” the news outlet reported, pointing also to “January’s marathon speaker election to May and June’s close call on defaulting on the federal debt — not to mention conservatives’ unprecedented tactics to grind the House floor to a halt.”

On Tuesday, September 12, the House returned from its August recess.

“With less than three weeks remaining before government funding runs out on Sept. 30,” The New York Times reported Sunday, Sept. 10, “Congress has not cleared any of its 12 annual appropriations bills, though there has been more progress than in the recent past. Given the rapidly approaching deadline, leaders of both the House and the Senate agree that a temporary stopgap funding measure will be needed to avert a government shutdown beginning Oct. 1. But that usually routine legislation is facing major obstacles in the Republican-led House, making its path to President Biden’s desk unusually fraught.”

READ MORE: ‘Flying Monkeys on a Mission for the Wicked Witch’: Raskin Rips Republicans Over Impeachment ‘Inquiry’

Monday morning CNN’s Manu Raju reported, “McCarthy’s future could tested as soon as today. House opens at noon, and Gaetz could file his motion to oust him today. At that point, the speaker could try to table the motion — or kill it. That is what is expected. But if that fails, the motion to oust him would still be alive.”

The question may soon become, will Democrats save McCarthy’s speakership?

“One idea moderate Republicans are proposing to get Democrats on board with saving McCarthy is to revise the rules package that governs how the House operates – and discussing making changes to House Rules Committee,: Raju reports, adding House Democratic leaders are keeping their “powder dry,” meaning not indicating what they want their members to do.

Noting that the House is “lurching from crisis to crisis thanks to the dysfunction inside the GOP conference,” Punchbowl News Monday morning asked: “Can McCarthy survive?

Congressman Gaetz “acknowledged his effort is likely to fail, suggesting Democrats ‘probably will’ come to McCarthy’s rescue. Gaetz then criticized McCarthy for even considering the possibility of remaining speaker with Democratic support — despite the fact that Gaetz spent weeks courting Democrats in his bid to topple McCarthy.”

“Are we convinced McCarthy will get through this? No, not at all. McCarthy very well could be a former speaker by the end of this week,” Punchbowl News added.

Meanwhile, as questionable as McCarthy’s future is as Speaker, so is Gaetz’s future as a Congressman.

The Florida lawmaker faces a re-opened House Ethics Committee investigation into possible “sexual misconduct, illicit drug use and potential public corruption,” ABC News reported in July.

“House GOP members are seeking to quickly expel Gaetz if the ethics report comes back with findings of guilt,” CNN’s Jacqui Heinrich reported Sunday. “Following threats to vacate McCarthy, one tells me ‘No one can stand him at this point. A smart guy without morals.'”

Watch the videos above or at this link.


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