Before moving to California, I was a correspondent at the United Nations Secretariat in New York City. I must admit, I was actually rather jaded by my experience there. While I relished my experiences hearing Hillary Clinton, President Bill Clinton, President Barack Obama and Vice President Al Gore speak in person, I also became aware of how little the UN is actually able to accomplish. The truth is, getting a majority of the world’s countries together to speak about their issues enables a lot of talking with not must listening. Countries come to the table to have their own problems heard, not really to hear the problems of other nations.
When I heard this week that the UN council passed a resolution to protect the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered individuals, introduced by South Africa, I was thus quite surprised – and pleasantly so. This is one of the first major steps the organization has taken in a long time, in my humble opinion.
This is such a subject of contention that the resolution led to abstentions, mostly for representatives of African countries.
The depute assistant secretary of state for international oranganizations, Suzanne Nossel explained, “It really is a key part in setting a new norm that gay rights are human rights and that that has to be accepted globally. It talks about the violence and discrimination that people of LGBT persuasion experience around the world and that those issues … need to be taken seriously. It calls for reporting on what’s going on, where people are being discriminated against, the violence that is taking place, and it really puts the issue squarely on the UN’s agenda going forward.”
No truer words.
The resolution came on the heels of New York moving one step closer to approving same-sex marriage in the state as well. In fact, New York’s Roy McDonald, a Republican, even came forward this week in favor of marriage approval:
These are all key steps in protecting and championing the rights of LGBT persons nationwide and internationally as well.
The United States ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, said the resolution “marks a victory for defenders of human rights. It sends a clear message that abuses based on sexual orientation and gender identity must end.”
Hillary Clinton, the U.S. Secretary of State, added, “gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights.”
Clinton continued, “Men and women are harassed, beaten, subjected to sexual violence, even killed, because of who they are and whom they love. Some are driven from their homes or countries, and many who become refugees confront new threats in their countries of asylum. In some places, violence against the LGBT community is permitted by law and inflamed by public calls to violence; in others, it persists insidiously behind closed doors.”
You go, girl!