UN proposal incenses gay activists

Published: March 25, 2011

South Africa’s recent signing of a United Nations joint statement aimed at preventing violence against gays and lesbians has been overshadowed by the government’s support for a resolution that human rights activists are saying would be unconstitutional in the country itself.

On March 31 47 members of the United Nations Human Rights Council will vote on whether to pass the resolution proposed by South Africa on March 17.

The resolution calls for an "open-ended intergovernmental working group to elaborate [on] new concepts such as sexual orientation", and "decides that the aforementioned working group shall be the single modality and framework of the United Nations Human Rights Council within which all the deliberations on sexual orientation … shall be undertaken".

The proposal has riled South African and international human rights and gay rights activists. Said Zackie Achmat, co-founder of the Social Justice Coalition: "As it stands the resolution would be unconstitutional.

It stops any further UN investigation or report on sexual orientation and gender identity anywhere. "If enormous hate crimes happen, as in Uganda, then the UN can’t investigate. It must first decide what sexual orientation means." He said the resolution also suggests that sexual orientation and gender identity are not part of international law.

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