The first openly gay man to be elected in Japan, a Nigerian exile and human rights defender in London, a Chilean gay rights activist, an Australian local politician, an organiser of Athens Pride and Poland’s first gay elected official have all added their names to a letter congratulating the UN for holding a panel this Wednesday, 7 March, to discuss discrimination and violence against LGBT people.
The panel will be the first time the UN Human Rights Council has focused on human rights, gender identity and sexual orientation.
The letter, started by the San Francisco chapter of Gays Without Borders, an informal global network of grassroots LGBT rights activists, urges those supporting LGBT human rights to organise 'viewing parties' for the panel, which can be watched live on Wednesday, midday to 3pm central European time, here.
The panellists leading the discussion include Irina Karla Bacci, vice-president National Council for LGBT Persons in Brazil; Laurence Helfer, co-director, Center for International and Comparative Law at Duke University in the US; Hina Jilani, chair, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and Hans Ytterberg, chair of the Council of Europe Expert Committee on Discrimination on Grounds of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.
Spokesperson for Gays Without Borders San Francisco, Michael Petrelis said they wanted to use 'the UN debate to bring expanded visibility to the maiming and killing of LGBT persons, and calling for further UN action'.
LGBT representatives in the US, UK, Australia, Poland, Turkey, Chile, Italy, Greece, Kenya and Japan signed the letter, which concludes:
‘As the UN Human Rights Council prepares for the historic March 7 discussion, we vow to use this important development to urge the UN to do even more: to respond with policies that decrease violence perpetrated against persons based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.’
Last week, a leaked letter from the 56 Islamic states in the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) revealed their opposition to the panel and the concept of gay rights as human rights at all.