Three activists have called off a hunger strike which called on French President FranÃ§ois Hollande to act on gay rights in the UN after 20 days.
The campaigners from the French committee for International Day Against Homophobia, who included IDAHO’s global founder Louis-Georges Tin, Alexandre Marcel and gay Ugandan refugee Usaam Mukwaya, had been refusing food since 25 June.
Tin said newly elected President Hollande promised him in May that he would bring a resolution to the UN, demanding the decriminalization of homosexuality worldwide.
A UN declaration asking the same thing already exists, again pushed through by Tin, but a resolution is stronger and would be more likely to be taken seriously by countries who lock up or kill gays, lesbians and bisexuals.
However on Friday (13 July), Tin was rushed to hospital after he briefly lost consciousness and found that he could no longer walk.
Tin said since they started the strike, they had been getting ‘weaker and weaker everyday.’
‘The worst was not the feeling of being starving, tired or in pain; it was the total indifference of the French government,’ said Tin.
‘When I was taken to hospital, doctors warned that there was a serious risk to my health, especially to my kidneys. All three of us were in danger, so we decided it was best to stop.’
But their efforts appear to have been in vain, having not persuaded the French government to act.
Tin said: ‘This is a defeat for all the people imprisoned for homosexuality and who are expected to wait (for decriminalisation), in countries like Cameroon, Uganda, Senegal and Iran.
‘Politicians in Paris, London and New York don’t seem to have a sense of urgency. We’ll have to find another way to convince them that for many LGBT people decriminalisation is an emergency.’
Homosexuality is against the law in over 80 countries and punishable by death in seven. A UN resolution is not always viewed as legally binding but states have to take note of it.
Human rights activist Peter Tatchell praised the hunger strikers for their ‘strength and courage’, calling it an ‘iconic protest’.
‘Although these three brave activists did not succeed in pressuring the French government to act, they have helped raised awareness of the global persecution of LGBT people,’ Tatchell said.
‘Getting a UN General Assembly resolution passed would have no force in law and is unlikely to result in homophobic governments repealing their anti-gay laws.
‘However, it would have great symbolic value; boosting the morale of LGBT activists and human rights defenders worldwide and setting an international bench-mark that the criminalisation of consenting adult sexual relations is unacceptable.’
Tin fears Hollande is backing away from his original pledge. He wants action urgently while Barack Obama remains US president with Hillary Clinton as his secretary of state, as he feels US diplomacy is vital to the success of a UN declaration on gay rights and this could not be guaranteed under a Republican government.
Clinton has indicated she will step down from her current role even if Obama wins a second term.