Human Rights Day 2012: Voices of LGBTI people should not be silenced
Today is international Human Rights Day 2012. This year’s focus is on the rights to Freedom of Expression, Opinion, Assembly and Association of all People. Read ILGA-Europe’s statement here.
In a number of European countries and regions, lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) people are being silenced by the so-called “homosexuality anti-propaganda laws”. These laws are a clear breach of the right of freedom of expression. Discussions about such laws have taken place in Russia, Moldova, Lithuania and Ukraine. The United Nations Human Rights Committee has in a recent case against Russia ruled that a regional propaganda law violates the rights to freedom of expression and to be free from discrimination. The European Commission recently declared that such laws may become an obstacle to realising visa liberalisation policies between the European Union and Ukraine.
Whilst welcoming these recent responses from the United Nations and the European Union, ILGA-Europe remains very concerned about attempts of the Russian Duma and the Ukrainian Rada to adopt such laws on national levels. Banning “homosexual propaganda” jeopardises the crucial work of LGBTI human rights defenders and fuels stigmatisation, discrimination and violence. Several public manifestations in Ukraine and Russia have been banned by authorities and human rights defenders increasingly face hazardous and sometimes dangerous circumstances in which they need to undertake their work.
It is in this context that ILGA-Europe has joined the Dignity for All: LGBTI Assistance Program. The project, which is launched today, provides emergency support for human rights defenders and civil society organisations working to advance the rights of LGBTI people who are under threat or attacked for their work. The consortium is led by Freedom House, while Akahata Equipo de Trabajo en Sexualidades y Géneros, the Arab Foundation for Freedoms and Equality, Heartland Alliance and the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission have also joined the consortium.
The program provides:
- emergency financial assistance to at-risk human rights defenders and civil society organisations to ensure their safety and continue their work
- support for short-term advocacy initiatives to counteract imminent threats, such as proposed or recently passed legislation and sudden government crackdowns
- proactive support to enhance the security of LGBTI activists and organisations through preventive security trainings.
ILGA-Europe hopes that this program will help to respond to emerging security threats that LGBTI human rights defenders face around the world.
What is Human Rights Day about?
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted on 10 December 1948. Every year since then the date has since served to mark Human Rights Day worldwide. The High Commissioner for Human Rights, as the main UN rights official, and her Office play a major role in coordinating efforts for the yearly observance of Human Rights Day.
United Nation’s official Human Rights Day website
What is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was unanimously adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations. The Declaration was drafted in very general terms and aimed to equip the countries with a universal human rights framework without references to particular groups. International and European institutions acknowledge that the principles of the Declaration are applicable to all human beings - including LGBTI people.
Find the full text of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
What is the “propaganda laws” about?
Earlier this year ILGA-Europe devoted an issue of our printed magazine, Destination>>Equality, on the laws banning 'homosexual propaganda' in various European countries.
Read it here
What is the new project Dignity for All about?
Dignity for All is conducted by a consortium of prominent regional and international human rights organisations, including: Akahata Equipo de Trabajo en Sexualidades y Géneros; the Arab Foundation for Freedoms and Equality (AFE); ILGA-Europe; Freedom House; Heartland Alliance; and the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission. The program provides: emergency financial assistance to at-risk human rights defenders and civil society organisations to ensure their safety and continue their important work; support for short-term advocacy initiatives to counteract imminent threats, such as proposed or recently passed legislation and sudden government crackdowns; and proactive support to enhance the security of LGBTI activists and organisations through preventive security trainings.
Read more about the project here