UN votes for ‘traditional values’ above gay rights

Russia has passed a resolution at the United Nations which highlights traditional values: Experts say the Human Rights Council vote will be used against gay, trans and women's rights

UN votes for ‘traditional values’ above gay rights
27 September 2012

Russia has won a vote in the United Nations today which promotes ‘traditional values’ above lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and women’s rights.

In the resolution references to sexual orientation and transgender protection are actually removed from what is included in human rights.

Activists have said it makes demands for the UN to vote to decriminalize gay sex worldwide even more urgent.

The anti-gay Russian resolution was passed in the UN Human Rights Council today (27 September). It was backed by 25 countries with 15 against and seven abstaining.

It was titled ‘promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms through a better understanding of traditional values of humankind’.

It ‘recalls the important role of the family’, and calls for ‘a better understanding of traditional values of humankind’.

And it states that ‘traditional values… can be practically applied in the promotion and protection of human rights and upholding human dignity, in particular in the process of human rights education.’

Experts believe conservatives will use the resolution to try to restrict LGBT and women’s rights around the world.

Russia, who sponsored and drafted it, has been using the concept of traditional values to do just that at home. Multiple gay events, notably  pride in Moscow, have been banned as incompatible with traditional values or religion or as an attempt to ‘debase human dignity’.

And new laws in Russia are trying to stop LGBT rights events as ‘homosexual propaganda’ that allegedly ‘opposes’ the ‘traditional family’.

Experts also point out that ‘traditional values’ are often used to justify ‘honour killings’ of gay and trans people and other abuses against LGBT people and women including state-sponsored murder, rape and female genital mutilation.

Speaking with Gay Star News, Russian LGBT rights advocate Nikolai Alexeyev stated: ‘Such concepts of “traditional values” are exactly what is used in Russian courts against gay rights and applied nationally.

‘Russia is interested to have an international resolution that it can use to justify banning future LGBT events, like Moscow Pride.

‘Until now, Russia did not have any international resolution or laws, at the level of the Council of Europe or the UN, to legitimize such denials.

‘This resolution gives the opportunity to every country to (mis)interpret human rights in the way it chooses to. It undermines the universal nature of human rights.

‘The resolution is a disgrace and dangerous.’ 

Louis-Georges Tin, chair and founder of International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO) told GSN: ‘For several years, Russia has been trying to promote "traditional values" in the United Nations.

‘It is actively supported by Saudi Arabia, Belarus, China, Cuba, North Korea, Kuwait, Pakistan, Syria, and several other countries which have hardly excelled in recent years by their contribution to human rights. It has now won a major battle.

‘IDAHO is concerned about the consequences of this new resolution, and therefore cannot press enough the French government to introduce a resolution, as soon as possible, to decriminalise homosexuality worldwide. The French president, François Hollande, pledged this on 25 September. It’s time to take action now!’

And John Fisher, of ARC International who campaigns for LGBT rights at the UN, told GSN: ‘This resolution elevates traditional values as a principle of international human rights law and to use it as means of imposing the values of the state in a manner which is inconsistent with the universal declaration of human rights.

‘This is part of a negative agenda of Russia to advance its own conservative perspectives on what constitutes traditions and their relationship to human rights.

‘We believe that the United Nations should be devoted to uphold the principles of human rights and not enabling states to promote their own perspectives on morality and traditions that could be used to undermine human rights.’

The resolution was drafted and presented by Russia along with Angola, Belarus, China, Cuba, North Korea, Ecuador, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Myanmar, Pakistan (on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation), Sri Lanka, Syria, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, and Vietnam.

Within the Africa group, Botswana and Mauritius voted against the resolution, and Benin and Nigeria abstained. All Asian council members supported the resolution.

In Eastern Europe, only Russia supported the resolution, with Moldova abstaining, and the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Romania voting against.

The results were very mixed among the Latin American states: Costa Rica and Mexico voted against the resolution, Cuba and Ecuador supported it. Chile, Guatemala, Peru and Uruguay took the floor to express strong concerns about the resolution, but went on to abstain instead of voting against.

All the western states at the council voted against the resolution – namely Austria, Belgium, Italy, Norway, Spain and the USA.

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