LGBT rights are debated on a global scale. Russia recently failed to stop the United Nations from extending staff benefits to all same-sex couples. It was voted 80 to 43 against the proposal put forth by Russia and signed by member countries that include Saudi Arabia, China, Iran, India, Egypt, Pakistan and Syria among others.
Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon had stated in July that the United Nations would recognize all same-sex marriages of staff and would receive health care benefits regardless of the laws of their country nationality.
This brings to light the issue of universal human rights and if the laws, rights and declarations are enacted equally by member states. And if not, should it be required. In December 18th 2008 the first declaration concerning gay rights stated a condemnation of violence, prejudice, harassment, discrimination, exclusion and stigmatization based on sexual orientation and gender identity. It also included the condemnation of killing, execution and torture on those grounds. It has since evolved to include amendments such as ‘Born Equal and Free’ which has been attached.
It is evident from this recent amendment by Russia and signed off that LGBT rights have a long way to go globally. In countries that signed along side Russia such as Iran and Saudi Arabia gay people can be punished with the death penalty. It is also evident that the United Nations remain deeply divided on emerging LGBT rights and issues.
How is the United Nations as a functioning, governing body on human rights and global development when member states have laws that contradict declarations, amendments and treaties? How do you unite nations that hold opposing cultural, religious and social values and views?
These questions continue to be asked as gay men and women globally face violence, death and discrimination.
I am reminded of the quote from Harvey Milk, an American
activist who stated, “It takes no compromise to give people their rights. It
takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no political deal to give
people freedom. It takes no survey to remove repression”.
"Being Young and Gay in Russia"