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Need: Urge governments to support the UN Statement on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

On about 9 March 2011 - just over two weeks from now - States from every region of the world will join together to deliver a statement calling for an end to criminal sanctions and other human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva. The statement deals with human rights abuses directed against people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, including violence, killings, rape, torture and criminal sanctions.

Supportive States are seeking to send a powerful message by delivering the statement on behalf of as many States from different regions as possible. This initiative builds upon previous initiatives, including a joint statement delivered in 2006 at the UN Human Rights Council by Norway on behalf of 54 States, a joint statement delivered in 2008 at the General Assembly by Argentina on behalf of 66 States, and last December’s historic vote at the General Assembly to condemn unlawful executions based on sexual orientation.

With your help, we would like to encourage as many countries as possible to join the statement, making it the largest-ever UN statement addressing human rights based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Let’s work together to send a clear message that killings, violence, rape and criminal sanctions directed against those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex are not acceptable – ever.

What can I do?

Please take action today to urge your government to support the statement.Send your Foreign Ministry a copy of the attached Joint Statement and Backgrounder we have prepared to help provide governments with more information.

In particular:

If you think your country might be supportive, it is urgent to contact them and encourage them to join the statement. Encourage them to also approach other States who may be supportive.
If your State is neutral, or has abstained on sexual orientation or gender identity issues in the past, urge them to speak up in favour
There is no need to contact your government if you know they will be unsupportive or hostile.

How did my government vote on these issues in the past?

A copy of each State’s position on similar issues in the past is attached below:
States highlighted in green on the attached chart either supported the 2008 joint statement on sexual orientation and gender identity or supported sexual orientation inclusion in the executions resolution in 2010. These are important States to approach because we hope they will again support sexual orientation and gender identity issues by joining the joint statement;
States highlighted in orange on the attached chart abstained or did not vote on sexual orientation inclusion in the executions resolution. With active lobbying from NGOs in their countries, we hope they may move from a neutral position to supporting the joint statement;
States highlighted in red voted against sexual orientation inclusion in theexecutions resolution. They are very unlikely to support the joint statement.

How do I contact my government?
The most important contact is your government’s Foreign Ministry in your capital. Contact details for the Foreign Ministry of each country can be found at: http://www.ediplomat.com/dc/foreign_ministries.htm
It is also useful to copy any message to your country’s Ambassador in Geneva. Contact details for the Geneva missions of each State can be found at: http://tinyurl.com/t2cwt
What do I tell them?

Thank them for any past support they have demonstrated for sexual orientation and gender identity issues, or for principles of human rights more generally, and emphasize that this is a very straightforward statement focused on recognising that all human beings are entitled to be protected from serious human rights violations like killings, violence, criminal sanctions and torture.

Underline that the statement builds on similar pastinitiatives, and will not be subject to a vote. It creates no newrights, but simply seeks the application of existing international standards to those who face human rightsviolations because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Point out that the statement is expected to attract broad support cross-regionally, encourage them to join the statement, and ask for a specific response to your request. You may also wish to request a meeting to discuss the matter further.
You know your own country best. Feel free tailor this information to the context of your country or region, while maintaining a constructive approach.

Questions or further information?
Please keep us informed of your country’s response. A coalition of international NGOs is closely monitoring the initiative, and may be reached at: coordination@arc-international.net

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