The U.S. State Department co-chaired an effort that resulted in 85 countries issuing a Joint U.N. Statement entitled, “Ending Acts of Violence and Related Human Rights Violations Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity” on March 22, 2011.
The new statement is the third in a series of similar statements that were issued in 2006 and 2008. The State Department noted, “This statement adds new references not seen in previous LGBT statements at the UN, including: welcoming attention to LGBT issues as a part of the Universal Periodic Review process, noting the increased attention to LGBT issues in regional human rights fora, encouraging the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to continue addressing LGBT issues, and calls for states to end criminal sanctions based on LGBT status.”
Tellingly, the first article I saw on this topic, “US to Demand Gay Rights Support at UN Body,” written by Associated Press (AP) reporter Bradley Klapper, talked only about “gay rights” and specifically said the document “calls for nations to end any criminal punishments against lesbians, gays and bisexuals….” At no point did the article mention transgender people or gender identity, leading me to wonder why the Obama administration had split the community, refusing to endorse rights for transgender people. I had to actually look at the U.S. State Department website – http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2011/03/155847.html — to find out the statement does cover the transgender part of our community. Seems we still have reporters who either don’t know what gender identity means, or don’t think their readers are interested in that segment of the LGBT community.
The AP article (available at http://www.aolnews.com/2011/03/21/us-to-demand-gay-rights-support-at-un-body/) was useful in noting that new signatories this time around include Thailand, Rwanda, El Salvador, Honduras, and the Dominican Republic.