- September 26, 2013
Post submitted by Jane WothayaThirikwa, HRC Global Engagement Fellow
The US Secretary of State John Kerry has lauded progress made with regard to breaking down walls of injustice and barriers of prejudice at a groundbreaking Ministerial meeting at the United Nations in New York on violence and discrimination against LGBT individuals. This was the first time that this topic has been discussed at a Ministerial level at the United Nations.
In his remarks, the Secretary of State stated that though the United Nations, other entities and countries around the world had fallen short with respect to affirming the dignity of LGBT persons, remarkable progress has been made the past several years, in securing the human rights of members of the LGBT community.
“For its part, the United States and the Obama Administration is fully committed to this work. I took personal satisfaction this past year when the United States Supreme Court overturned Section 3 of DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act – and I say personal satisfaction because I was one of 14 senators who voted against that when it was passed – and that prevented federal recognition of same-sex marriages. That decision paves the way for policies and programs that support all married couples, regardless of their sexual orientation”, he said.
At the closed-door meeting 10 Member States in a joint declaration, stated:
“We, ministers of Argentina, Brazil, Croatia, France, Israel, Japan, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and United States, and the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy – members of the LGBT Core Group at the United Nations – hereby declare our strong and determined commitment to eliminating violence and discrimination against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.”
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, reminded Ministers that in some places, conditions for LGBT people were deteriorating, not improving, citing as examples regressive new laws proposed or adopted in the past twelve months in several Eastern European and African countries. HRC has sustained a campaign against the recently introduced anti-LGBT “propaganda” law in Russia, that makes any action or materials perceived to be pro-LGBT illegal, and punishable by fines and possibly prison time.
The historic meeting provided a forum for ministers and other high-level representatives of Member States, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and representatives of Human Rights Watch and the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) to discuss advancements for protecting the human rights of LGBT persons, and to secure commitments from Member States to this end.