Faith Leaders Urged To Support Human Rights For All People
Leaders of the Metropolitan Community Churches call on all Christian leaders and all people of faith to speak out against the documented violence against people based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
“The first ever United Nations documentation of the pattern of imprisonment, brutal attacks and discrimination against sexual minorities across the world shows beyond question that people of faith must speak out for the basic human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender people,” said the Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson, Moderator of the Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC). “During my decades of ministry in MCC and through our ministries in 37 countries, I have watched as our people have been torched, bludgeoned, arrested, humiliated, rejected and executed. In the name of God and basic human dignity, this must stop!”
The United Nations report released on December 15 calls on all governments to comply with international law by protecting the rights of all persons, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, released the report that calls for decriminalizing relationships between consenting adults. It urges asylum for lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) individuals at risk of violence, killings, torture and abuse, whether at the hands of family, community members or government officials. And it calls for freedom of expression and assembly, as well as non-discrimination in accessing employment, health care and education. Pillay is expected to present the report to the Human Rights Council at its next scheduled meeting in March 2012.
Publication of the report came days after President Obama issued a White House directive for United States officials around the world to begin supporting programs and asylum for sexual minorities in fear of violence. The next day, on December 6, Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, addressed the United Nations Commission on Human Rights on LGBT rights and received a standing ovation.
The Rev. Pat Bumgardner, pastor of MCC New York and head of the Global Justice Institute, attended Clinton’s speech and said, “This is a watershed moment in history. People of good faith can be assured that The Universal Declaration of Human Rights applies to each and every one of us. The UN study, President Obama’s directive and Secretary of State Clinton’s speech will pave the way for more direct action to address the egregious abuses LGBT people face. Faith leaders have a particular responsibility to counter the harm done by condemnations of gay people rationalized by selective reading of scripture.”
The UN report and resolution were the result of decades of unshakable advocacy by LGBT human rights defenders. It could not have materialized without the legacy of people around the world claiming the right to be free from violence, discrimination and persecution, and the right to have voice and to organize without being threatened.
“The brutalities and indignities suffered by LGBT persons have finally been recognized as violations of the core principle of the UN Charter, namely the universality of human rights,” said Avrind Narrain of the Alternative Law Forum in India. “The UN report reaffirms the decision of the Delhi High Court that criminal laws against consensual same-sex conduct are incompatible with international human rights norms.”
Joel Nana, Executive Director of African Men for Sexual Health and Rights (AMSHeR), said: “This is an important step towards the effective protection of LGBT people from human rights violations. AMSHeR commends this endeavor and urges African parties to the treaties to put in place mechanisms to prevent further violations.”
“The report calls on governments worldwide to actively pursue leadership”, Dr. Julia Ehrt, Executive Director of Transgender Europe stated. “In Europe, nearly every person who is visibly trans is affected by harassment … It is high time for state leaders to get into action with comprehensive gender recognition and anti-discrimination policies such that these severe human rights violations of transgender people end.”
MCC Moderator Wilson said, “The UN report does not call for new rights but to insist that all people are entitled to the protection of international human rights law. In language of faith, we would say that we are all created in the image of God and deserve to be treated as such. Virtually every faith tradition has support of human rights in their resolutions or policies. It’s time to put them in action for all people-all children of God-including lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender children of God.”
Metropolitan Community Churches has over 200 ministries in 37 countries; the movement was established in 1968 to welcome all people of faith, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.