Australia and US Not Signed Up to UN Decriminalisation Declaration


By Tony Grew, Pink News • December 5, 2008

Several nations with sizable gay communities have not signed up to a declaration on the universal decriminalisation of homosexuality to be presented at the UN this month.

The French initiative is backed by all EU nations along with Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, Ukraine, Andorra, Liechtenstein, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia, Ukraine, and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

In the Americas the most notable absence is the United States.

Canada has signed up alongside Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico and Uruguay.

Three African nations – Gabon, Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau – are committed to the declaration alongside New Zealand, Israel, Armenia and Japan.

Louis Georges Tin, the founder of the Inernational Day Against Homophobia, is behind the universal decriminalisation declaration.

He met with Rama Yade, France’s minister of human rights and foreign affairs, earlier this year.

In September she confirmed that she will appeal at the United Nations for the universal decriminalisation of homosexuality.

Until the end of 2008 France will speak for all EU member states at the UN General Assembly, as they hold the rotating Presidency of the European Union.

The French initiative on decrminalisation will take the form of a solemn declaration from UN states, rather than a vote in the UN on the matter.

France will submit a draft declaration at the UN General Assembly between December 15th and 20th. The British government already advocates universal decriminalisation.

More than 80 countries outlaw same-sex relations in all circumstances.

The maximum punishments range from a few years jail to life imprisonment.

In nine countries, or regions of countries, the mandatory punishment for homosexuality is death by execution.

More than 50 nations have signed up to support the initiative, but the Vatican has attacked it and claims that as many countries have not signed up, it they are in the right.

“It’s not for nothing that fewer than 50 member states of the United Nations have adhered to the proposal in question while more than 150 have not adhered. The Holy See is not alone,” a Vatican spokesman said earlier this week.

The Holy See does not have a vote at the UN, but its observer has tried to claim that “states which do not recognise same-sex unions as ‘matrimony’ will be pilloried and made an object of pressure,” as a result of the declaration.

Mr Tin said:

“If your government has not yet signed the text, and if you think it is relevant to ask them, you could then lobby the Foreign Ministry in your capital.

“It might be also useful to copy any message to your country’s Ambassador at the United Nations.

“You can explain that it is a declaration (it is not compelling), it is only about decriminalising homosexuality (there is no link with marriage) and that more than 50 countries have already signed.

“If your government has already signed the text, you may ask them to contact other close friend states. For instance, Canada and UK might contact other countries of the Commonwealth, Mexico and Spain might contact other countries of Latin America.”


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  1. woulfe




    10 December 2008

    But more work needed on national anti-discrimination laws

    Lobby group the Australian Coalition for Equality has today welcomed a
    commitment from the Federal Government to co-sponsor a non-binding UN
    declaration calling for the decriminalisation of homosexuality.

    The proposed declaration, to be presented by France and supported by all 27
    member nations of the European Union, states that the laws that criminalise
    GLBTI people in 85 nations worldwide are fundamental breaches of the UN
    Declaration of Human Rights.

    Australian Coalition for Equality spokesperson Rod Swift has congratulated
    the Federal Government on now taking a leadership role in fostering
    international human rights.

    “We understand the Australian Mission to the General Assembly in New York
    has been instructed not only to support the French Statement, but to sign on
    as a co-sponsor,” Mr Swift said.

    “We welcome the Rudd Government’s strong commitment to advocating against
    sexuality and gender identity discrimination globally, and we look forward
    to working with it to develop a strategy for raising the issue at every
    opportunity, both at the UN and in Australia’s bilateral talks with other

    “Australia’s support of the statement sends an especially strong message of
    condemnation to those nations who still execute and persecute people just
    for being of a different sexual orientation or gender identity.”

    “However, the Federal Government still has a long way to go to protect GLBTI
    people from discrimination in Australian law. It should move promptly to
    enact comprehensive anti-discrimination laws on the basis of sexual
    orientation and gender identity.”

    The UN declaration is expected to be presented later today at the UN by Rama
    Yade, the French State Secretary for Human Rights.

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