by Rex Wockner
A historic statement was expected to be read into the record before the United Nations General Assembly on Dec. 18, condemning anti-gay discrimination and urging repeal of laws that ban gay sex.
Sponsored by at least 61 nations, the statement, among other things, denounces “violence, harassment, discrimination, exclusion, stigmatization and prejudice … directed against persons in all countries in the world because of sexual orientation or gender identity” and “urge(s) states to take all the necessary measures, in particular legislative or administrative, to ensure that sexual orientation or gender identity may under no circumstances be the basis for criminal penalties, in particular executions, arrests or detention.”
The presentation is, according to some of the activists involved, the first step in a process aimed at getting the General Assembly to pass a resolution calling for decriminalization of homosexuality worldwide.
As of press time, according to various sources, countries that had signed the declaration included Albania, Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chile, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, France, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Montenegro, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, United Kingdom, Uruguay and Venezuela.
Meanwhile, on Dec. 6, several hundred people demonstrated near St. Peter’s Square against Vatican City’s opposition to the statement. Many of the protesters wore nooses around their necks to call attention to the fact that at least seven nations have laws imposing the death penalty for the crime of gay sex.
Gay sex is banned in more than 80 countries.
“LGBT people have launched a global campaign in defense of life and dignity of thousands of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender citizens,” said Aurelio Mancuso, president of the Italian national group Arcigay. “Wickedness of Vatican politicians must not prevail over the human rights.”
The Vatican has said it opposes the statement for fear it will increase pressure to legalize same-sex marriage.