Friday, September 24, 2010

Ban Ki Moon speaks out in U.N. against all institutionalised homophobia.

While checking in on for the latest news affecting the gay world - a world i have been part of all my life, a world which in many ways has raised, shaped and nourished me - i was thoroughly heartened to read about United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon [God and Buddha bless him!] and his recent pronouncements on Gay Rights.

This was not at all widely reported elsewhere. In fact i really don't think i heard anything at all about it in the media.
What i find most surprising is that similar speeches made over recent decades about Women's Rights being Human Rights eventually received common support and even led to laws being changed [all-too-slowly, but surely nonetheless].

But as soon as even the most basic human rights of those awful homosexuals are supported at the highest levels of society the international press responds with a resounding Yeah. Whatever! Give us a call when there's something NEW to say on the matter!

But this simply isn't good enough - not good enough at all. There IS something new to be said on the matter... As long as gay people don't have equal status in EVERY respect, there will always be something new to say.

Take Ireland, for example.

I have lived here all my life. And for most of my life i have lived here openly with my partner, the gorgeous M.
Now the sad and sorry truth is that although we live in semi-detached suburbia, surrounded by quite beige but smiley lower middle-class heterosexuals they have rarely introduced themselves to us, we still don't know any of their surnames after 14 years in this particular house, and we suspect they even discouraged their kids from chatting to us.

So - finally getting to the point - i think it truly has to be said that a society where all this can still happen is a sick society indeed.
In the case of Ireland it is even worse again, i'm afraid.
We have recently passed a law to allow gays to register civil partnerships but we have not permitted them to have full equality with heterosexuals under the law.
Unfortunately, it gets even more ridiculous than that.

The homophobia that has led to such a sorry state is evidently institutionalised right from the politicians who debated, blocked and watered down the law, all the way down to the lowly gay and lesbian equality lobby group who actually lobbied for [and settled for] LESS THAN equal status for gays. Even they, it seems, didn't quite believe in full equality for gays. Is this what they now call 'internalised homophobia'?

So all this leaves us with the daunting prospect of somehow bringing about equal status by some other means.

I've always believed the old maxim that The Truth Will Set You Free.

So it is with a song in my heart and the love of a good man that i will just carry on regardless. 

That's really all any of us can do. Just go on being someone's neighbour, someone else's son or brother, and maybe even someone else's Dharma teacher...

Surely to Buddha, being out and proud will eventually lead to equality ... won't it?

If you would like to read the afore-mentioned article about Ban Ki Moon on Gay Rights [and then hopefully pass it on to whoever you think might listen to its simple message]... here it is:
20 Sep 2010
UN chief Ban Ki-moon urges repeal of anti-gay law
UN chief Ban Ki-moon called on countries to abolish laws that discriminate against gays and lesbians during a panel discussion held on the sidelines of the 15th regular session of the UN Human Rights Council. 
Top United Nations officials today appealed to all countries that criminalize people on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity to reform such laws and to ensure the protection of basic human rights for all.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
“No doubt deeply-rooted cultural sensitivities can be aroused when we talk about sexual orientation. Social attitudes run deep and take time to change. But cultural considerations should not stand in the way of basic human rights,” said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. 
In a message to a panel discussion in Geneva on ending violence and criminal sanctions based on sexual orientation and gender identity, which was delivered by UN High Commissioner Navi Pillay, Mr. Ban noted that the responsibilities of the UN and the obligations of States are clear. 
“No one, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, should be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. No one should be prosecuted for their ideas or beliefs. No one should be punished for exercising their right to freedom of expression.” 
In May, during a visit to Malawi, the Secretary-General called for laws criminalizing people on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity to be reformed worldwide. Such laws, he noted, fuel violence, help to legitimize homophobia and contribute to a climate of hate.
While in Malawi, he had also lauded the “courageous” decision by the country’s leader to pardon a gay couple who had been sentenced to 14 years in prison, voicing hope that the African nation will update its laws to reflect international standards. 
Ms. Pillay noted in her own remarks that, despite significant progress made in a number of States, there is still no region in the world today where people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual transgender or intersex (LGBTI) can live entirely free from discrimination or from the threat of harassment and physical attack.
“But in 78 countries, individuals still face criminal sanctions on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” she told the event, which was held on the sidelines of the 15th regular session of the UN Human Rights Council.
“We should be looking for ways to ensure that everyone enjoys the full protection of international human rights law, not for grounds to justify excluding certain individuals.”
She said the first priority should be decriminalization worldwide, which should be accompanied by greater efforts to counter discrimination and homophobia, including both legislative and educational initiatives.
“If we are all entitled to the full range of human rights and to equal protection of the law then, I believe, it can never be acceptable to deprive certain individuals of their rights, indeed to impose criminal sanctions on those individuals, not because they have inflicted harm on others or pose a threat to the well-being of others, but simply for being who they are, for being born with a particular sexual orientation or gender identity.
“To do so is deliberately to exclude a whole lot of people from the protection of international human rights law. It is, in short, an affront to the very principles of human rights and non-discrimination,” she stated.