Davina Kotulski

Speech from the San Francisco UN Plaza Rally to End the Criminalization of Homosexuality

Filed By Davina Kotulski | December 13, 2010 10:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: Jamaica, sodomy, Uganda, united nations

The Lakota have a saying "Mitakuye Oysain" - we are all related.

Buddhist Monk, Thich Nhat Hahn, talks about oneness, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. talked about the interrelatedness of life. "I can never be what I ought to be, until you are what you ought to be."

And that's why we are here today. Because the harm done to one is harm done to all.

We stand here today at the UN Plaza formed after World War II, an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights and achievement of world peace.

In the summer of 1992, Alison Marks, a young LGBT identified intern stood on the floor of the UN and read the first introduction to the UN calling for the prevention of discrimination and protection of LGBT people.

Her focus was to address the arbitrary arrest, detention, threats of violence, persecution and execution of LGBT people citing Article 3 and 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Ms. Marks was a young visionary because she also quoted Article 13 that "Everyone has a right to freedom of movement" drawing attention to the fact that same-sex couples around the world were denied the right to sponsor a same-sex partner for immigration solely based on their sexual orientation, and the denial or equal relationship recognition. "The freedom of movement."

A right still denied in the United States.

And I note that this is the first year HIV+ people can come into the country.

Eighteen years later, Ms. Marks read the introduction of LGBT rights on the floor of the UN we have marriage equality in ten countries, two nation's federal districts, and five states, and over eighteen countries recognize the right of an LGBT person to sponsor their same-sex partner for immigration, but we don't have that in the US.

And still, LGBT people in Africa and the Middle East and parts of Asia are continue to be sent to prison because in their countries homosexuality is a crime punishable by lengthy prison sentences, including life in prison.

And if that weren't bad enough, in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Iran, Nigeria, Yemen, Sudan and Mauritania LGBT people are being executed for who they love.

Under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations has an ethical and moral duty to protect the lives of LGBT citizens of the world and protect them from this tyranny and persecution.

We stand here today because we refuse to let our LGBT brothers and sisters, our fellow LGBT global citizens, be murdered at the hands of their governments for the crime of loving someone of the same-sex.

We stand here in solidarity with them, knowing that this kind of anti-gay fanaticism can spring up anywhere if unchecked. We certainly saw it Nazi Germany.

We stand here today to call for an end to laws around the world that criminalize homosexuality.

LGBT people are treated as criminals in Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Jamaica, Guyana, Belize, and dozens of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African countries. They can be thrown in prison for several years for engaging in same-sex behavior.

Just this past May, a same-sex couple having a private wedding ceremony in their home in Malawi were arrested and given a fourteen-year prison sentence. We're it not for world-wide outrage these men may have already been beaten and killed in prison. As it was the stress of the arrest and incarceration destroyed their would-be marriage.

The country of Uganda, influenced by U.S. right-wing fundamentalist Christians, continues to try and pass laws to execute LGBT people and give life sentences to people who knowingly hide LGBT people.

We are going backwards and the Religious Right is not only reversing our rights here in California and in the United States. They are on a mission to repeal LGBT rights worldwide. They are radicalizing countries like Uganda with hate and intolerance.

The biggest U.S. export should not be hate!

We've got to speak out even louder and do more for LGBT rights globally. We've got to be unstoppable in our mission for equality as they are in their mission for intolerance! People's lives are at stake.

Many of us recall what happened this summer to Nikolai Alekseev, an LGBT activist in Russia.

We're it not for our international intervention, Nikolai would likely be dead or hidden away in some prison.

In 2006, I debated Maggie Gallagher at Brown University. Gallagher heads up the National Organization of Marriage, which has finally been declared what it truly is: a mega-million dollar hate group.

The reason Gallagher and her anti-gay group have been able to raise so much money and take away our civil rights wielding lies and misinformation is because they are unstoppable in their commitment to hate and discrimination and we must be unstoppable in our commitment to love and equality.

They show up every day, they stay involved, they give money, they go to events.

Our community has got to be more committed. We cannot be content having our rights here at home. We must work for equality for same-sex couples to have the right to sponsor their partners for immigration.

We must work to end the criminalization of homosexuality around the world and we must end the hate against LGBT people.

In my book Love Warriors, I talk about gay men in Iraq receiving death sentences for belonging to a group called Iraqi LGBT and reports that the Iraqi Militia forcibly removed gay men from their homes and that these men were later found shot through the head, their bodies dumped in isolation, and many found with their "anuses glued shut."

This must end. There must be a global outcry for equal protection and equal rights for LGBT people and for the decriminalization of homosexuality.

We are trend-setters here in San Francisco, are we not?

People from across the globe look to and listen to us.

We must have a strong, united voice of solidarity to end the persecution of our LGBT brothers and sisters worldwide.

We must become international love warriors!

To our LGBT brothers and sisters in Uganda, Kenya, Iran, Jamaica and other countries where homosexuality is still a crime, please know that our hearts go out to you and we will work diligently at home so that you can live and love out loud.

With love from San Francisco!


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There is a challenge here not to separate the human rights concerns from the larger context or from issues that affect people's lives, which is hard when human rights violators are allowed to determine what the human rights rules are.

wildwildwest | December 14, 2010 4:34 AM

The Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly voted on Nov 16 to remove a specific 10-year-old reference to sexual orientation from the resolution condemning extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. The vote tally was 79 to 70, with 26 abstentions. Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom all voted against the move. (Some of the countries that voted YES surprised me; a few I admit I have never heard of before)

The following countries voted YES, which means they voted to remove "sexual orientation" from the resolution. (Which means, to me, individuals CAN be killed or executed because of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity)

Afghanistan - Algeria - Angola - Antigua-Barbuda - Azerbaijan - BAHAMAS - Bahrain - Bangladesh - BARBADOS - Belarus - BELIZE - Benin - Botswana - Brunei Dar-Sala - Burkina Faso - Burundi - Cameroon - CHINA - Comoros - Congo - Cote Divoire - CUBA - Dem Pr Korea - Dem Rep of Cong - Djibouti - Egypt - Eritrea - Ethiopia - Ghana - Grenada - Guyana - HAITI - INDONESIA - Iran - Iraq - JAMAICA - Jordan - Kazakhstan - Kenya - Kuwait - Lebanon - Lesotho - Liberia - Libyan AJ - Madagascar - Malawi - Malaysia - Maldives - Mali - Morocco - Mozambique - Myanmar - Namibia - Niger - Nigeria - Oman - Pakistan - Qatar - Russian Fed - Rwanda - Saint Kitts-Nev - Saint Lucia - Saint Vincent-G - Saudi Arabia - Senegal - Sierra Leone - SOUTH AFRICA - Sudan - Suriname - Swaziland - Syrian AR - Tajikistan - Tunisia - Uganda - United Arab Emirates - United R Tanz - Uzbekistan - VIETNAM - Yemen - Zambia - Zimbabwe

See the complete vote result here:
http://www.un.org/en/ga/third/65/docs/voting_sheets/L.65.pdf

More about this here: (caution: horrifying image is here)
http://www.xtra.ca/public/National/UN_removes_sexual_orientation_from_execution_proscription-9480.aspx

Choose your vacation destinations wisely! And perhaps, think again about buying imported goods from these places...