Friday, 17 December 2010

The Nation, one of Thailands influential English newspapers condems Thailands role as chairman of the UN Human Rights Council !

Today, in its editorial, The Nation speaks out strongly against Thailands role as chairman of the UN Human Rights Council in its stand on rights for Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals and Transgenders.
Thailands position comes just after the first time ever petition of GLBT-activist to Thailands governement on the rights of the GLBT- community end november in Bangkok (see our earlier 'report'!

It makes again clear the difficult road ahead for the GLBT-community here in Thailand as in a lot of other countries, IF they are indeed serious in their desire to try to get things changed for the better, because Thailand is less tolerant then we sometimes think and think we experience when on holliday, etc. in this Buddhist country.
Amazing Thailand all over again, sadly a missed opportunity !

But who knows, the editorial of The Nation also signals that maybe actually there's something better in the air for the GLBT community ;-)
Can't wait, because it would really simplify life here!
All of us non-Thai should support oour Thai brothers in their more then worthwhile struggle for equal rights in Thailand!!

Below the inegral text from the editorial as published today in The Nation!

There's nothing partial about universal rights
By The Nation
Published on December 17, 2010

Thailand has shamed itself at the UN and ignored its own Constitution on the issue of gender rights; there is no excuse for this intransigence

One would imagine that it should be easy for everyone to agree that taking someone's life because of who they are is reprehensible. One would also think that a predominantly Buddhist country considered by many as tolerant'would condemn the senseless killings of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders (LGBTs) based simply on their identities. Sadly, that's not yet the world we live in, and that's not the Thailand many think they know. Last month 79 countries voted to successfully remove a reference to sexual orientation as a ground for protection in a UN resolution condemning extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. The amendment effectively says it's permissible to kill LGBTs for no other reason than they are homosexual, bisexual or transgender.

Thailand, in its role as chair of the UN Human Rights Council, chose to abstain rather than vote against such a repugnant initiative like the 70 nations that do insist on the right to life of LGBTs - including India, Nepal, Bhutan, Timor Leste, Japan and South Korea. Fortunately for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders worldwide - whose lives continue to be threatened by homophobic traditions, laws and governments - the majority of people don't want a world that permits the killing of a minority group because of prejudice and ignorance. They remember the disturbing photographs of a public hanging of two gay teenagers in Iran five years ago. They are also shocked by recent developments in African countries like Uganda, which is pushing ahead with a bill imposing the death penalty for same-sex relationships. Is this really how far we have advanced in the 21st century?

"Today, many nations have modern constitutions that guarantee essential rights and liberties. And yet, homosexuality is considered a crime in more than 70 countries. That is not right," said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a high-level panel discussion on "Ending violence and criminal sanctions on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity" to mark International Human Rights Day last Friday.

Echoing Ban's remark, US ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, said she was "incensed" by the vote, announcing that the US will move to restore the reference to sexual orientation when the resolution comes before the UN General Assembly on December 20. Other countries are urged to join this important effort.

This is not the first time Thailand has sat on the fence on the issue of sexual orientation and gender identity at the General Assembly, the UN's most important body. In 2008 our UN representation also chose not to endorse a statement affirming the human rights principle of universality and non-discrimination regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity. At that time, LGBT activists met representatives of the Foreign Ministry to hear an explanation as to why the ministry thought it acceptable for LGBTs to be singled out as a group deserving of state-condoned violence. The excuse they received was that the abstention vote was made in deference to the country's relationship with the Organisation of Islamic States.

That excuse cannot stand up to scrutiny. If Thailand wants to keep criticism from Muslim countries at bay, the right way to do it is to promote accountability, justice and human rights in the deep South - not by condoning violence against another minority group in the name of cultural intolerance.

The Thai government is not being asked to side with one group of countries or another. It's only being asked to be on the side of universal human rights. It's being asked to abide by our own 2007 Constitution whose Article 30 prohibits discrimination on the grounds of sex, which explicitly includes sexual identity, gender and sexual diversity.

As Ban officially said, "It is not called the 'partial' declaration of human rights. It is not the 'sometimes' declaration of human rights. It is the 'universal' Declaration, guaranteeing all human beings their basic human rights - without exception. Violence will end only when we confront prejudice. Stigma and discrimination will end only when we agree to speak out."

It is time for Thailand to speak out. And Thais - LGBTs and the many who support social justice - will be listening this Monday.

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