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Islamic states, Africans walk out on UN gay panel
Published Wednesday 07/03/2012 (updated) 12/03/2012 16:41
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UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay addresses the 19th session
of the Human Rights Council at the United Nations in Geneva Feb. 27, 2012.
(Reuters/Denis Balibouse)

GENEVA (Reuters) -- Brushing aside high-level UN appeals for cooperation to halt murder and violence against gays and lesbians around the globe, Muslim and Arab countries on Wednesday stalked out of a Human Rights Council panel to tackle the issue.

Speaking before the walkout for the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Pakistan described homosexuality as "licentious behavior" while African group leader Senegal said it was not covered by global human rights accords.

Nigeria - where gay rights groups say there have been many attacks on male and female homosexuals - declared none of its citizens was at risk of violence because of sexual orientation or gender identity before it too left the chamber.

And Mauritania, for the Arab group, all of whose members are also in the OIC, said attempts to impose "the controversial topic of sexual orientation" would undermine discussion in the council of all genuine human rights problems.

The walkout, which diplomats said not all countries in the Islamic and African groups joined, was the first by three major blocs in the 47-member council, which has been dominated until recently by a caucus of developing countries and their allies.

It came after United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Human Rights High Commissioner Navi Pillay told the session that gays and lesbians should be protected by all governments.

"We see a pattern of violence and discrimination directed at people just because they are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender," Ban said in a video message to the panel, chaired by African group dissenter South Africa.

"This is a monumental tragedy for those affected -- and a stain on our collective conscience. It is also a violation of international law. You, as members of the Human Rights Council, must respond," the UN chief declared.

US, South Africa pushed

Islamic and most African countries have long kept discussion of what the UN dubs "sexual orientation and gender identity" out of the council but a strong drive by the United States and South Africa brought it onto the agenda last June.

With a developing country bloc in the body eroding, Latin American countries like Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay joined in to push through a narrow vote to mandate Wednesday's panel and the High Commissioner's report.

Pillay, once a South African high court judge, told the session her life under apartheid had taught her that "ignorance and bigotry" could only be overcome by education and frank discussion among people with different views.

In her report she detailed the often fatal abuse - she labeled it "homophobia" - homosexuals faced around the globe ranging from mob killing for males, multiple rape of lesbians "to cure them" and torture in public and private jails.

The report said 76 countries among the U.N.'s 192 members had laws criminalizing homosexual behavior. At least five - in particular Iran - provide for the death penalty while efforts are under way in Uganda to introduce the same punishment.

"I know some will resist what we are saying," said Pillay, who earlier this week was accused by Egypt in the council of promoting homosexuality by pressing on with the report despite the objections of Islamic countries.

In a clear reference to Islamic and African countries, she said some states would argue that homosexuality or bisexuality "conflict with local cultural or traditional values, or with religious teachings, or run counter to public opinion".

But while they were free to hold their opinions, she declared, "That is as far as it goes. The balance between tradition and culture, on the one hand, and universal human rights on the other, must be struck in favor of rights."
1 ) milad / syria
07/03/2012 22:27
the u.n. leadership are just tools of the americans.

2 ) Nour / One State
07/03/2012 22:29
What a shame, our Arab countries cannot even come to terms with human sexuality,or any minority! Shame on us for living in the stone age. Wake up people homosexuality is found in nature.

3 ) Colin Wright / USA
07/03/2012 23:42
"That is as far as it goes. The balance between tradition and culture, on the one hand, and universal human rights on the other, must be struck in favor of rights." Just as an abstract philosophical consideration, absent tradition and culture, can there be any such thing as rights? I don't see how. Isn't that what tends to go wrong with revolutions? Without traditional constraints, there are no rights, and the sky (or the execution ground) becomes the limit.

4 ) Colin Wright / USA
07/03/2012 23:52
Anyway, the UN et al are headed for a fall on this one. Various East Asian cultures don't much care about homosexuality, and of course that homosexuality should be tolerated has become accepted in most circles in Western Europe, the United States, and those places that look to these for moral guidance. However, the whole thing doesn't cut much ice in Africa, Eastern Europe, or the Islamic world -- in other words, among a good third of the human race.

5 ) Ajibola Hasan / Nigeria
08/03/2012 00:29
We're not animals like the WEST. We totally reject this abnormal practices in Africa and other part of Islamic countries.

6 ) Nour / One-State
08/03/2012 09:54
Why censor me, Maan? Have we decided to turn our back to the entire world? Freedom of expression? Human rights?

7 ) Hilde / Palestine
08/03/2012 12:01
The way sexual minorities are treated in some countries makes #5 statement about who is being an "animal" appear rather ... ridiculous. People are being tortured, burned and hanged for loving eachother. How is that not barbarism?

8 ) Nour / One-State
08/03/2012 15:20
#5 Those elements in the West calling for tolerance and a scientific attitude towards a vast portion of human sexuality, cannot be branded "animals" Ajibola. Your attitude reminds me of Boko Haram (Which translates to "Western Education is haram")- who of course cannot be branded "Muslims" for they kill and destroy people who don't agree with them. With all due respect, fix your own house which is on fire, before inciting other cultures to target their minorities. Respect human rights!

9 ) Nour / One-State
08/03/2012 15:23
#1 Milad, I'm curious to know, are you one of those stupid fascists who think homosexuality is a Western concept? If so, then I invite you to read the Arab poetry of Abu Nawwas and others who acknowledged homosexuality as a human condition and the subject of discourse, not taboo. The same can be said to Ajibola, if you think homosexuality is alien to Africa, then you must be uneducated. It PREDATED European colonialism - explain?

10 ) Nour / One-State
08/03/2012 15:26
Colin, I am thoroughly confused by your posts. What is your stance on homosexuals..i.e. people who are attracted to members of the same sex and pursue personal relations with them? Shouldn't they have access to jobs and perks of citizenship? Do you condone their cold-blooded murder at the hands of terrorists and at times, the State itself?

11 ) No-Nour / No-State
08/03/2012 16:03
It is obvious that the only thing which is uniting countries inside UN is their hatred toward America, West, Israel and Jews. As soon as UN stops talking about Israel they can not agree on anything.

12 ) Mohammad / Jordan
08/03/2012 18:22
Islam,Judaism,Christians all say homosexual is wrong.thats gods words.But if they want to be gay that's there problem,god will judge them,not me.But dont ask me to support gays that we should never do.I dont think this should be UN problem.

13 ) Sam / USA
08/03/2012 18:29
Hold on,I just solved the whole problem of rights for gays. Israel says its the state for Jews only right,wy don't we give all the gays a state of there own,but where,maybe some European country. If Jews can do it wy not gays.Then we can do them like Israel dose to GAZA,have blocked of them.because when god strikes them he can just take them out.

14 ) Business / Israel
09/03/2012 04:44
It is not a "shame" Arab- Islamic culture cannot come to terms with gays, it is simply a symptom of their totalitarian mindset. #5 is the perfect example. That is one more reason why we will not subject ourselves to this culture. Totalitarian intolerant haters.

15 ) milad / syria
09/03/2012 13:27
@ nour9 if you have your views good.but western imperialism once again shows its liberal fascist policys,interwoven with zionism.we don't need those policys

16 ) imperialisms / disguises
09/03/2012 13:35
morecolnial policys of the west,be it economically,culturally or political mrs.nour. the same people who want to bomb syria ,inthe name of zionism,wahabism.why accept them to use liberalism in the name of attacking arabs,muslims non westerners. its part of they globalisation policys

17 ) a nour / zionist?
09/03/2012 13:37
and why would u call me a fascist.. get a grip man

18 ) zahwa / paris
09/03/2012 14:34
achmardinijad once said we don't have any

19 ) Outsider / EU
09/03/2012 19:23
9) Nour, hear hear. 15) "liberal fascist" policies now? Which is it? Make up your mind.
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