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October 10, 2011 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

Queer Officer

Many international documents have made grand statements implying that all people have the right to non discrimination. However it is not hard to see that gay people are discriminated against worldwide.

Article One of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) states that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” The UDHR lists a number of characteristics that cannot be used as a basis as a legitimate form of discrimination. These characteristics include, race, colour, sex, language and religion, however there is no specific mention of sexual orientation anywhere in the UDHR. The absence of a policy of non-discrimination based on sexual orientation in the UDHR, came about because at the time of drafting there was no visible movement for gay and lesbian rights anywhere in the world. Some argue that ‘sex’ includes sexual orientation, however this is not sufficient as although gender discrimination is related to sexual orientation discrimination, there are important differences between the two.

The lack of a consensus on gay rights means that many states feel it is okay to discriminate. For example Iran regularly executes gays and lesbians, Russia bans gay pride parades, describing them as “satanic”, and New Zealand denies two people that love each other the right to marry. Furthermore international criticism of Uganda’s “Kill the Gay Bill” prompted The Observer (one of Uganda’s leading newspapers) to state that homosexuality was not a human right while citing the UDHR. Across the world gays and lesbians are denied rights that are granted to everyone else.

There is still hope! This year a historic gay rights resolution was passed at the United Nations human rights council which expressed “grave concern at acts of violence and discrimination, in all regions of the world, committed against individuals because of their sexual orientation and gender identity”. Although this resolution is a step in the right direction, the UN has no mechanism to back up the resolution; it is therefore up to civil society to change these governments way. You can help in this process by coming along to the Legalise Love March for Equality on October 20. For more information visit


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