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Human Rights Council

LGBT Rights

LGBT Rights

United Nations Human Rights Council HSMUN 2012

Francisco Daz Borbn Natasha Prez Tmmler

March 16 & 17

Human Rights Council

LGBT Rights

Dear Delegates, Welcome to the Human Rights Council for Humboldt Schule MUN 2012! Im Francisco J. Daz an Abitur Student of the Humboldt Schule, I live in San Jose and my hobbies are drinking tee, reading sci-fi and fantasy novels, comics and books about physics, but enough about me. How are you? Now all jokes aside, Im really enthusiastic about MUN conferences, despite the fact that Im relatively new and the first conference our school delegation and myself ever attended to, was only 2 years ago. I am really grateful because in this, the very first conference we ever host, I was given the opportunity to be a director in the committee, and topic of my choice. Life is a curious thing, that can take you places you never even imagined you were going to be or you even knew existed, and that is why for some reason I cannot recall right now I found myself living for a couple of days in the house of the Director of the UNHCR of New York, in the time I spent there, I learned quite a few things about politics, and about the awful situations a lot of people live in and about other things that one does not simply see on the news. That is why I chose this committee because I believe that by being involved in a humanitarian organization one can learn things that are not in the everyday textbook. And I decided to choose this topic when I heard that Costa Rica was one of the few countries that had not signed a resolution that attempts to abolish the criminalization of LGBT rights, I was really outraged by the lack of commitment with the international community, because in my opinion not being in favor of a good cause is being against it. I saw this as an opportunity to discuss about a topic that has been ignored by a lot of people and to inform the rest of the people that have not heard about it. I will be working alongside my co-chair Natasha Perez, who is a great person and also has experience in MUN conferences and humanitarian committees, with the advantage that she is not such a socially awkward penguin as I am. Im really looking forward to our conference, Im sure the people that chose this topic are going to be truly interested in working hard, keeping their countries positions, keeping the debate going and diplomatically coming to a resolution that satisfies everyone. I really look forward to meet all of you on March! Sincerely,

Francisco Daz Human Rights Council Committee Director

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LGBT Rights

Introduction
The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is an inter-governmental body within the UN system made up of 47 States responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe. It was created with the purpose of researching and addressing the most contentious and sensitive subjects of human rights violations, in the international community, and making recommendations on them. In the numerous sessions this council has held, many issues have been addressed and most of them have been successfully resolved. However there is a particular issue that not only this council but for the whole international community ignored for decades and thought of as a taboo. The problem was the promotion of LGBT rights. The study guide attempts to outline the arguments on both sides of the debate without bias, and it is up to the representatives to pass a resolution in the UNHRC that will decisively resolve the issue set forth. The issue of LGBT rights requires immediate attention and meticulous debate, for its not a secret that people are discriminated against because of their sexual preference or sexual identity in the daily basis worldwide. Violent attacks against this minority are socially acceptable in a significant number of places and what is even more worrying is the fact, that nondiscrimination policies exist only in a reduced amount of countries and that homosexuality is actually considered illegal and a crime in over 76 countries and punished with death penalty in other 5. 20 of

those countries are member states of this very council. This has made that the very few resolutions regarding this matte pass by only a few votes. Furthermore the lack of interest of most nations to pass a resolution that prohibits the criminalization of homosexuality and the discrimination of people because of their sexual identity has made the improvement of this matter very difficult. The secretary general Ban KiMoon recently addressed the nations of the world and stated that the rights of this people must be respected and implemented where they yet have not been, because there are no reasons that justify the violation of human rights of any group or minority, however not many nations seem to have reacted. The victims of human rights violations mentioned deserve ergo the full attention and enthusiasm of delegates in the United Nations Human Rights Council. And it is of up most importance that all the member states collaborate to come to an agreement to reform and hopefully put an end to these atrocious acts.

History of the Committee


The U.N. Human Rights Council is responsible for promoting and preserving human rights around the globe. The 47member Council was founded on 15 March 2006 by the United Nations General Assembly and was modeled after the former Commission on Human Rights, which was a part of the original U.N. charter in 1946. The Commission was dissolved in 2006 under then U.N. Secretary- General Kofi Annan for doubts regarding the human rights

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records of member nations. Since its founding, the UNHRC has held 19 regular sessions, and 18 special sessions. Much of the work of the UNHRC relies on oversight by the General Assembly (GA). The GA elects member states for 3-year terms and a limit of 2 terms. Membership is distributed amongst regions, with 13 from the group of African States, 13 from the group of Asian States, 6 from the group of Eastern European States, 8 from the group of Latin American and Caribbean States, and 7 for the group of Western European and other States. Observer states, also known as non-member nations, are still allowed to participate in debates and contribute to the Advisory Committee to the UNHRC, but cannot vote to pass resolutions or make decisions. The General Assembly can also vote to suspend member nations if it has repeatedly made violations or acted against the human rights. Finally, many of the recommendations made by the UNHRC are submitted to the General Assembly for further contemplation. There are several important subdivisions within the Council that help define its role. The main division was the Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, until it was replaced by the Advisory Committee in September 2007. The Advisory Committee has 18 experts that serve as a think-tank for the Council and provide the best possible advice when it is requested. It is limited to thematic issues that aim to protect and promote human rights and may suggest further research; however, it cannot adopt resolutions. It communicates with national governments, human rights groups and institutions, and

non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to ascertain the most correct and up-to-date information available about specific issues. The Advisory Committee is also responsible for activities that are classified as special procedures, which cover the actions of the U.N. Special Rapporteurs and Working Groups. Rapporteurs are volunteers who are experts in a particular area of human rights or region of the world. These independent monitors respond to individual complaints, conduct studies, and provide advice in accordance to the rights outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Rapporteurs work closely with and are supported by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, which was established in 1993 after the World Conference on Human Rights to coordinate human rights activities between U.N. bodies and to supervise the UNHRC. The other arm of special procedures includes the Working Groups, which are organized experts that investigate specific human rights topics. There are currently 4 Working Groups: on people of African descent, on Arbitrary Detention, on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, and on the use of mercenaries to impede the right of peoples to self-determination. Rapporteurs and Working Groups respond to current human rights violations and receive information through the Complaints Procedure, which brings ongoing issues to their attention. Special reports called the Universal Period Review assess human rights situations in all 192 U.N. member states in a rotation of studies. This new system replaces the critical country-specific resolutions of the former

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Commission. The reports are based on reports from various sources including NGOs and the government of that country. Each report is then subject to a debate in the Council. These reviews have covered 48 countries in 2008, with the review of the remaining countries to take until 2011 to complete.

Definition of Key Terms


LBGT (alternatively GLBT): an acronym referring to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. Homosexual: a characteristic with which one is sexually attracted to people of ones own sex. Lesbian: a homosexual woman. Gay: a homosexual, usually refers to a man. Bisexual: a person who is sexually/romantically attracted to people of both sexes. Transgender: an individual who identifies with a gender that is not biologically his or her own. Sexual orientation: emotional, romantic, or sexual attraction towards a particular gender. Gender identity: the feeling that one is male, female, or transgender. Marriage: the formal and legal union of two people (typically a man and a woman who become husband and wife). Civil unions: a legally recognized union between two people of the same sex, which offers some rights

similar to those that come with marriage but not all. Homophobia: an aversion or fear to homosexual people or homosexuality. Transphobia: an aversion or fear to transgender people or transgenderism. Discrimination: the unjust treatment of individuals due to certain categories they fall under (e.g. gender, race, sexual orientation).

History and Discussion of the Problem


Why LGBT Rights Matter
As it was previously stated the rights of countless innocent LGBT people are being violated everyday throughout the world. Not only are they discriminated against, they are also punished just because of their sexual orientation and their gender identity. It is outrageous that in some countries people are sentenced to death penalty because of this. In addition the constant bullying and violent acts of discrimination that people of this minority are often faced to has led to various suicides, and psychologically traumas for the victims. Another worrying issue is that not many nations seem to be concerned by this matter; Costa Rica for example has not yet signed the resolution that attempts to end the criminalization of homosexuality in other countries. And this lack of consciousness and commitment with the international community has made it really

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hard to have any significant progress in this area. Discrimination should not be the case by any means conceivable. By no means is it acceptable to prosecute a person on the basis of his /her gender identity or sexual orientation. As Article 1 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights clearly states: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood. Even though the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has been adopted by the General Assembly, Article 1, Article 5 (the infliction of degrading, cruel, and inhuman treatment; torture), Article 9 (arbitrary detention on the basis of beliefs or identity), and Article 20 (the restriction of freedom of association) are regularly violated. Therefore, all individuals falling under the LGBT category should be treated the same as those that dont, for they too are human beings with reason and conscience. As one Amnesty International poster accurately put, Gay rights are human rights. Going by this, we, the people of the world, must work hard to promote and enforce LGBT rights.

Constitution punishes what is labeled unnatural sexual acts with a fine and [At least] five years in prison. Senegalese individuals have reported being insulted, threatened, stripped, beaten, tortured, attacked, and blackmailed. People live in fear of losing their families, freedoms, livelihoods, jobs, and even their lives because they are different. This has lead to many other problems, such as individuals not seeking health-care or HIV testing or treatment in fear that they will be arrested or worse. Uganda: An Anti-Homosexuality Bill was actually drafted and introduced to the Ugandan parliament on the 14th of October 2009. This document violates human rights and criminalizes the efforts of LGBT rights activists working for equal rights in Uganda providing for harsher penalties for homosexuals, including the death penalty for "repeat offenders, as well as hindering effective HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment efforts. In Uganda, arbitrary arrest is not uncommon and instances of the arresting of men and women accused of engaging in consensual sexual activities with someone of the same sex are common. There has been active campaigning against homosexuality in Uganda, led by churches, the media, and anti-gay groups.

Case Studies
Senegal: A discriminatory law exists and abuse of homosexuals is condoned by both the general public and the police. Article 319.3 of the Senegalese

Honduras: Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in Honduras may face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Both male and female same-sex sexual activity is legal in Honduras, but same-sex couples and

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households headed by same-sex couples are not eligible for the same legal protections available to opposite-sex married couples. Both same-sex marriages and adoption by same-sex couples have been constitutionally banned since 2005. Such individuals are subject to harassment and violence from organized gangs, security forces, various vigilante groups, and other sources. However, few of these crimes have been labeled as hate crimes while fewer of them have been fully investigated or had their perpetrators brought to justice. Netherlands: Was the first country to offer full civil marriages and benefits to same-sex couples, changing its laws in 2001.The public widely supports tolerance and equal rights for LGBT people, although conservative Christians and Muslim immigrants tend to be more in opposition with their beliefs about gender and sexual equality. At least two-thirds of anti-gay hate crimes are attributed to Muslim immigrant youth, the majority of whom are of either Moroccan or Turkish descent. There is a strong LGBT community in the Netherlands, and several gay-owned or gay-friendly hotels, nightclubs and cafes and have become established. It is a popular destination for gay tourism, especially Amsterdam, where an LGBT gay pride festival occurs in early August. Ecuador: Same-sex sexual activity has been legal in Ecuador since a 1997 landmark decision by the Constitutional Tribunal overturned as unconstitutional section one of Article 516 of the Penal Code, which previously criminalized sexual activities

between persons of the same sex. The age of consent in Ecuador is 14 regardless of gender and/or sexual orientation. Both male and female same-sex sexual activity is legal in Ecuador, but same-sex couples and households headed by same-sex couples are not eligible for all of the same legal protections available to opposite-sex married couples. South Africa: Section 9 of South Africa's Constitution forbids discrimination on the basis of sex, gender or sexual orientation, both by the state and by private parties. The Constitutional Court has indicated that these protections must be broadly interpreted, and that they extend to prohibit discrimination against transgendered people. These constitutional protections have been reinforced by the jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court and various statutes enacted by Parliament. This country has a diverse history when it comes to the legal and social status of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people as a result of traditional South African mores, western imperialism, Apartheid and the human rights movement that contributed to the down fall of apartheid. South Africa's post-apartheid constitution was the first in the world to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation, and on 1 December 2006 South Africa became the fifth country in the world, and the first in Africa, to legalize same-sex marriage.

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Timeline of Significant Events


1926- The word homosexuality is used for the first time in a major publication; in this case, the New York Times. 1933 - 1945 Homosexuals are subject to discrimination by the Nazi Party, an entity that tries to eradicate them all together. 1970- First gay-pride march in New York. 1973- American Psychiatric Association states that homosexuality is not a disorder. 1986- Denmark is the first country in the world to allow civil unions between samesex partners and to grant them most of the same rights as a married heterosexual couple. 2001- Netherlands becomes to first country to allow same-sex couples to marry.

report detailing the situation of LGBT citizens worldwide to follow up and implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action. Later that year, the report was released. 2012 - UN. Secretary General Ban KiMoon urged leaders at an African Union summit to respect gay rights

Relevant Partners
Many non-governmental organizations have taken them upon themselves to protect the LGBT community from the shortcomings of their respective governments. These organizations include: Amnesty International, who believes that all people, regardless of their sexual affinity or identity, should be able to enjoy the full range of human rights and the same treatment as everyone else. The organization works to protect members of the LGBT community, to raise awareness on cases of abuse against LGBT individuals, as well as striving to achieve marriage equality for LGBT individuals and the decriminalization of belonging to the LGBT community. The International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) is a US-based international NGO that addresses human rights violations against LGBT people and people with HIV/AIDS. It is accredited by the

2006- The Yogyakarta Principles on the Application of International Human Rights Law in Relation to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity is developed by a group of LGBT experts in response to well-known and highly publicized violation of international human rights law and cases of abuse. It provide a universal guide to applying international human rights law to violations experienced by the LGBT community in order to ensure human rights for all. 2011- Its considered a historic event South Africa submitted a request to the United Nations Human Rights Council requesting the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to draft a

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United Nations and holds consultative status with that organization. IGLHRC was founded by Julie Dorf in 1990, and incorporated as a non-profit organization in 1991. Though initially focused on human rights abuses in Russia, the organization is now active in many parts of the world, including the Americas, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. IGLHRC is headquartered in New York City with satellite offices in Buenos Aires, Johannesburg, and Manila. In 2010, IGLHRC has also contributed in forming "An Activist's Guide" of the Yogyakarta Principles in Action. International Lesbian and Gay Association: which is a federation of many local and national groups that fight for the achievement of equal rights for LGBT individuals worldwide. POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS The prohibition of criminalization of homosexuality. The legal recognition and legalization of LGBT individuals and LGBT sexual acts. The drafting and subsequent inclusion and ratification of LGBT rights in national, regional, and international civil rights bills, acts, and constitutions in order to make LGBT rights constitutionally viable. Appropriate education about LGBT individuals and their deserved rights in school curricula as well as the

spreading of awareness and promotion of such rights. The provision of counseling to individuals who have been victims of LGBT discrimination.

Questions a Resolution Must Answer (QUARMAs)


How should UNHRC protect the rights of LGBT people in the world? Does the UNHRC have the right to legislate regional solutions in Africa and other problematic regions for the issue of LGBT rights? If so, what regulations or solutions should be made, and how will they be enforced? What role should international organizations, such as the U.N. and NGOs have, if any, in the relations between the state and LGBT people? How should governments distinguish (or reconcile) the collective rights of LGBT communities with the rights of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender individual?

Position Paper Guidelines


Position Papers should include relevant historic relationship of each country with indigenous rights and police brutality. The topic area should be addressed in the position paper. Include whether the country has non-discrimination policies and laws or not, and the current status of legality of

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homosexuality, sexual identity and all the related matters i.e. marriage, adoption, and expression of sexuality rights. The paper should also address legislation or government actions in the past regarding the topics, as well as current efforts. Lastly, delegates should thoroughly research the current opinions and initiatives of government of each country and, if applicable, major NGO contributions. Depending on the historical context, many countries have complicated or nuanced views regarding the topic. Delegates should be aware of the differences within the country, such as political parties and civilian reforms, as well as within the geographic region. Each position paper should also include general movements either pro or contra the LGBT community. Emphasize the current political and social climate regarding these issues and current trends to address them. It may be helpful to research U.N. resolutions, not just those passed by the UNHRC in the past, which are applicable to the topic. Finally, include any restorative efforts that have or are currently taking place regarding each topic. Position papers should be about 300 words and should not exceed more than one typed, singled-spaced, page

Community Contributions
While the issue of discrimination and criminalization of people because of their sexual orientation or sexual identity may

seem like a job only for government officials or lobbyists, there is actually a number of ways that students interested in community activism can get involved. Much of the battle lies in information dissemination. By educating yourself, family, friends, and classmates about current issues and efforts to combat instances of state-sponsored violence or threats to minority rights, you can promote government legislation to address these issues. Simply keeping up to date with recent events goes a long way in changing societal attitudes towards these problems. Learning as much as possible about the history and possible solutions will make you more effective delegates and global citizens. The Relevant Partners section is a good place to get started. There are many NGOs and advocacy organizations where a small donation or an enthusiastic volunteer will go a long way. Get involved in these programs or contact local government to help raise awareness and initiate action, international influences can have a big effort in humanitarian efforts as history has shown us again and again. Make the effort to further educate yourself if you are interested in these topics and feel it is important to raise global consciousness. However, again, the most important first step to take is becoming informed and by reading this study guide, participating in debate, and opening yourself to the different solutions. Even the smallest effort for action can make a huge difference in the lives of victims around the world.