U.S. Convenes First UN Security Council Meeting on Gay Rights
The Obama administration lauded as "historic" Monday's first-of-its-kind meeting at the UN Security Council on gay rights, organized by the U.S. Missions at the UN and Chile.
Much of the meeting focused on the murder of homosexuals by ISIS, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime and other groups in the region including the Al-Nusra Front, but UN Ambassador Samantha Power made clear that they want the agenda to be broader.
According to reports, Chad and Angola skipped the closed meeting.
Subhi Nahas escaped execution by fleeing to Lebanon after ISIS took his city, Idlib, Syria. "At the executions, hundreds of townspeople, including children, cheered jubilantly as at a wedding," Nahas said. "If a victim did not die after being hurled off a building, the townspeople stoned him to death. This was to be my fate too."
A representative of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission said they've counted at least 30 murders by the Islamic State on the allegation of sodomy. Those accused of being gay are thrown off tall buildings, beheaded, stoned or shot.
After the meeting, Power told reporters that images of what ISIS does to gays were displayed "so, if ever anybody was tempted to drift away or have their attention go elsewhere, the graphic, gut-wrenching photos of what is being done and the very real threat posed – even as we sat in this meeting today – in territory where ISIL is dominant."
"Yes, it is true that ISIL has made it common practice, it seems, to target LGBT persons, but that is true also around the world very far from where ISIL dominates. You have countries that have criminalized LGBT status; you have societies, of course, that are every bit as unwelcoming as they were 20, 30 years ago, communities in that regard. But today’s meeting is a sign that this issue is getting injected into the mainstream at the United Nations," she said.
Power stressed it was the first Security Council meeting ever on LGBT issues -- "a small but historic step."
"We just have to continue to create dedicated spaces and venues for conversations like the one we just had, raising awareness, showing LGBT people, or those being persecuted, that the UN cares, that the Security Council cares, that the General Assembly cares, that the Human Rights Council cares, that the Member States of the United Nations care – that’s extremely important," she said. "But also each of us, as governments, has a responsibility to inject the treatment of LGBT persons into our bilateral relationships as well."
Power added that when the issue of "how LGBT persons are being treated in particular conflict areas" comes up in future meetings "it’s also imperative that in addition to talking about the threat that ISIL poses to Christians, to Yezidis, to Shia, to any Sunni or anybody who doesn’t share their warped ideology, to cultural artifacts of the kind that have been destroyed monstrously here in the last couple days."
"Alongside that, it is essential that the fate of LGBT persons also be raised and discussed, and we will work with our Council partners and colleagues to ensure that it isn’t just the United States raising it."
Power made no mention of Iran, which hangs gays.
The meetings comes as the administration is under pressure from lawmakers to deny visas to diplomats’ spouses if the envoys come from a country that doesn’t recognize same-sex spouses of State Department personnel.
"This historic event recognizes that the issue of LGBT rights has a place in the UN Security Council," State Department press secretary John Kirby told reporters at the open of the daily briefing. "Around the world, the UN has documented thousands of cases of individuals killed or injured in brutal attacks simply because they are LGBT or perceived to be LGBT. This abhorrent practice is particularly widespread in ISIL-seized territory in Iraq and in Syria where these violent extremists proudly target and kill LGBT individuals or those accused of being so. No one should be harmed or have their basic human rights denied because of who they are or who they love."
"We would like the thank Chile for co-sponsoring this event with us," Kirby added. "The United States will continue to raise the plight of target LGBT individuals around the world and work to protect their basic human rights."
The meeting even got a shout-out from the National Security Council, with spokesman Ned Price issuing a statement tonight on the meeting "of how better to protect the lives and dignity of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) persons, who are frequently among the most vulnerable in conflict and post-conflict situations."
"Today’s session focused on ISIL’s atrocities targeted against LGBT persons and those perceived to be LGBT in Syria and Iraq. In highlighting acts of horrific brutality that these individuals have endured, today’s discussion challenged the international community to develop better and more effective protections for LGBT persons," Price said. "...Just as the United States will not relent in our efforts to defeat and ultimately destroy ISIL, we will continue striving for a world in which no one is subject to violence or persecution because of who they are or whom they love.