Waymon Hudson

FL Rep Ileana Ros-Lehtinen Slams U.N. Leader for Anti-Gay Comments

Filed By Waymon Hudson | September 24, 2009 2:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: gay rights, ros-lehtinen, United Nations

Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) has issued a scathing statement against the new president of the United Nations General Assembly, Ali Abdessalam Treki (who is a former foreign minister of Libya) for recent remarks that seemed to favor the criminalization of homosexuality:

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The anti-gay bigotry spewed by this Qaddafi shill demonstrates once again that the UN has been hijacked by advocates of hate and intolerance. Congress must demand better by enacting pending legislation that would leverage our contributions to the UN to produce sweeping, meaningful reform of that body.

Ros-Lehtinen, who is the the ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has also spoken out against "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", Florida's Anti-Gay Amendment 2 (marriage ban), and many other issues.

Ros-Lehtinen warned that the US was being asked to contribute aid to what she called "the U.N.'s anti-freedom agenda," pointing to the U.N. Leader's comments in which he said in a news conference last week that the issue of homosexuality was "very sensitive, very touchy," but then added that "as a Muslim, I myself am not in favor of that. ... It is not accepted in the majority of the world." He then went on to hint that he supported criminalizing homosexuality.

She also noted similar comments made by Iran's leader that denied even the presence of gay people in his country.

The United Nations did vote last year to urge the decriminalization of homosexuality in countries around the world.


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The General Assembly President, Ambassador Treki, spoke only for himself. His views on the criminalization of homosexual behavior are completely contrary to those of the UN as a whole.

As a close observer of the UN and LGBT issues, I feel quite strongly about this. Both the UN Secretary-General and the UN Development Program's (UNDP) head, Helen Clark of New Zealand, have spoken out forcefully and explicitly about protecting and promoting the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

These statements have been reinforced by the UNDP Executive Board, most recently this month in New York, which has noted and welcomed this commitment to human rights for all.

In the past 18 months, the UN has significantly increased focus on LGBT issues. As noted in this article, the UN has called for decriminalization of consenting same-sex relations amongst adults. Among other things, UNDP has launched pilot country-level programs to address these issues in a dozen countries. UNAIDS and its partners have been working to develop and launch a program to sensitize, educate and motivate UN staff at the country level around these issues throughout the world, an effort that will be launched shortly with a pilot session in (appropriately) North Africa.

I am sure we all welcome Representative Ros-Lehtinen's personal commitment to addressing the human rights and health needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender populations, as well as the increasing involvement of the United States Government in this work. However, her use of the issue to progress her anti-UN agenda is misleading.