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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, April 1, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 13
International News - Rex Wockner
Section One
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International News

by Rex Wockner - SGN Contributing Writer

Obama, Brazil champion OAS LGBT rapporteur
During a visit to Brazil on March 19, President Barack Obama joined with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff to call for establishment of an LGBT rights 'special rapporteur' at the Organization of American States.

In a statement issued three days later, the White House added: 'President Obama believes that advancing the human rights of minorities and the marginalized is a fundamental American value. The president was pleased to announce during his trip to Brazil that he and President Rousseff agreed to promote respect for the human rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender individuals through the establishment of a special rapporteur on LGBT issues at the Organization of American States. This special rapporteur will be the first of its kind in the international system.'

The OAS, which dates to 1948, comprises the 35 independent states of the Americas and is the principal political, juridical and social governmental forum in the hemisphere, according to its website. The OAS charter says the organization promotes peace, justice, solidarity and collaboration as well as members' sovereignty, territorial integrity, and independence.

Nations pledge movement on LGBT issues at U.N. Human Rights Council
As the United Nations Human Rights Council continued its periodic review sessions on various nations, several developments took place this month.

Mongolia's representatives accepted recommendations that the nation address issues of violence against LGBT people.

Panama accepted a recommendation to synchronize its national laws with the norms of 'The Yogyakarta Principles on the Application of International Human Rights Law in Relation to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity,' which were drawn up at a 2006 meeting in Indonesia by human-rights experts from around the world.

Honduras agreed to review its national laws to ensure that LGBT human rights are not abridged.

And Jamaica agreed to provide enforcement officials with sensitivity training on matters of sexual orientation, gender identity, and HIV.

At the same time, representatives of four nations - Lebanon, Malawi, Maldives, and Mauritania - rejected recommendations that they decriminalize Gay sex.

In January at the Human Rights Council, São Tomé and Príncipe said it will legalize Gay sex by June, and Nauru said it also plans to decriminalize homosexuality.

The Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review officially analyzes the human-rights record of each of the 192 U.N. member nations on a rotating basis once every four years, and urges reviewed nations to protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Spanish students arrested over chapel protest
Four students at Spain's Madrid Complutense University were arrested March 18 by National Police on charges of desecrating a place of worship.

Displaying slogans on their bare torsos, the four students and others entered the university's Somosaguas Chapel and read out a manifesto against recent homophobic and macho statements made by Roman Catholic bishops and the pope.

Local reports said at least one female couple allegedly made out near the altar. The church reportedly was empty at the time but for two girls, one woman, and the chaplain.

If convicted, the protesters could spend up to a year in jail.

Sixty professors at the university have signed a manifesto supporting the protesters and secularism at the university but not 'the manner in which [the protest] developed.'

Madrid's archbishop later staged a 'healing mass' at the chapel that was attended by about 1,000 people.

Austrian Constitutional Court rejects Gay case
Austria's Constitutional Court has rejected a case aimed at including Gays and Lesbians under laws that protect against incitement to hatred and against discrimination in non-workplace settings.

The court was asked to strike down Criminal Code Article 283, 'Incitement to Hatred,' and sections of the Federal Equal Treatment Act because they exclude Gays and Lesbians.

According to the group Rechtskomitee Lambda, Austria's government defended the status quo, arguing that incitement to hatred against Gays and Lesbians differs from incitement targeting religious or racial groups because the former lacks 'dangerous close-range and long-range effects.'

The court determined that because homosexuals are purportedly not directly affected by the lack of protection, the application for legal relief was inadmissible, the group said.

Kurt Krickler, secretary general of Homosexual Initiative Vienna, said he wasn't surprised at the outcome because 'these are political and not so much legal issues.'

He said measures to address the two problems had been introduced in Parliament, where one measure failed and the other may still see a vote.

Rechtskomitee Lambda said it hopes to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights.

'Hatemongers are still allowed to incite to hatred against Lesbians and Gays, and now even with the consent of the Constitutional Court,' said the group's president, Helmut Graupner.

With assistance from Bill Kelley

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