Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Anger continues at the United Nations; Kentucky Equality Federation asks Governor Beshear to act

Lexington, KY -- Fury continues at the United Nations World Health Organization, the United Nations AIDS Program, and the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Organization (ILGA) over comments made in the Republic of India. Kentucky Equality Federation has been a member of ILGA since 2006.

Homosexuality is not a disease and there is no place for discrimination on the basis of a person's sexual orientation, the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations AIDS Program (UNAIDS) emphasized today, a day after Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad of the Republic of India said men having sex with men (MSM) is a "disease" and "unnatural".

"India's rich tradition of inclusivity and social justice must include men who have sex with men and transgender people," Michel Sidibe, UNAIDS executive director, said in a statement. "Homosexuality is no disease, India must include gay sex."

"There is no place for stigma and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Consistent with WHO's disease classification, UNAIDS does not regard homosexuality as a disease."

Azad's comments had come at the National Convention of Parliamentarians on HIV/AIDS Monday. The two-day convention saw the participation of India's National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) and UNAIDS, among others.

"Earlier this year the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution saying that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people have the same equal rights as anyone else and cannot be discriminated on the basis of their sexual orientation. The resolution passed by the United Nations will be added to the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights just as the Organization of American States passed a similar resolution years ago," stated Kentucky Equality Federation President Jordan Palmer.

"If neither the Commonwealth of Kentucky nor the United States will prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, they must obey United Nations law and the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights."

Palmer continued: "We call on Governor Beshear to include the passage of a statewide equality law in his next State of the Commonwealth address in 2012. Additionally, we call on Governor Beshear to issue an executive order granting hospital visitation rights to same-sex couples for hospitals that receive funding from the Commonwealth. It is time to move our Commonwealth forward and stop discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. There was a time when only people of a certain sex and race could own land; women also could not vote, but in the name of equality we progressed and moved forward."

The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights consists of 30 articles which have been elaborated in subsequent international treaties, regional human rights instruments, national constitutions and United Nations law.

Palmer continued: "It is sad that the head of the United Nations, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, responsible for over 6 billion lives intervenes for equality when the Commonwealth of Kentucky has less than 4.5 million citizens and yet no officials, except for senior Kentucky Representatives such as Tom Burch, Mary Lou Marzian, Ruth Ann Palumbo, Susan Westrom, Darryl Owens, Reginald Meeks, Joni Jenkins, Jim Wayne, and others has taken a hard-line (and unwavering) stance for equality."

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon chastised States prior to the United Nations resolution, stating: "The responsibilities of the United Nations and the obligations of States are clear. No-one, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, should be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. No-one should be prosecuted for their ideas or beliefs. No-one should be punished for exercising their right to freedom of expression."

Palmer continued: "Currently, under Kentucky law is it perfectly legal to terminate someone or deny them housing, credit, or accommodations based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Smokers cannot be discriminated against, but the LGBTI community can be. It is time that Kentucky takes the lead again in the area of human rights just as it did in 1966 by being the first Southern state to pass a Civil Rights Act. The Kentucky Civil Rights Act of 1966 needs to be expanded again to include sexual orientation and gender identity."

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