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UN gay rights and World Refugee Day

BY NOREEN FAGAN: It has been a good weekend: the
United Nations Human Rights Council passed a resolution on human rights violations based on sexual
orientation and gender identity.

The resolution was presented by South Africa, along with
Brazil and 39 other co-sponsors from around the world. It was passed by a vote
of 23 in favour, 19 against and three abstentions.  

It is the
first UN
ever to bring specific focus to human rights violations based on sexual
orientation and gender identity.
It affirms the universality of human rights and notes concern
about acts of violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and
gender identity. 

It is about time it happened, and I am glad that South
Africa was the country that stood up and made this an issue. It is also
interesting that it was the only African country that supported the resolution.

A Nigerian news agency reported that the Nigerian representative to
the UN, Ositadinma Anaedu, said that African countries “and more than 90 percent of the African people” did not support the resolution. He also warned
that the UN could turn into a “guinea pig” of policies that cannot be
implemented by member states.

The UN resolution is a major step forward. It may even be a
small step in helping the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people who live
in fear for their lives in countries like Uganda. For those people, the only
real chance of survival is to gain asylum in another country, by becoming refugees.

Today is World Refugee Day, and the number of people forced
to flee their homes is a whopping 43.7 million.

A report released by the United Nations refugee agency says that
15.4 million people are refugees who have been forced to leave their country, and 27.5 million
are displaced persons within their own countries.

In a written
statement, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, said,
"The world is failing these people, leaving them to wait out the
instability back home and put their lives on hold indefinitely… developing
countries cannot continue to bear this burden alone, and the industrialized
world must address this imbalance."

Earlier this year, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney
announced that Citizenship and Immigration Canada will partner with the
Rainbow Refugee Committee to provide up to $100,000 over three years to help
settle gay refugees in Canada.

Helping to bring gay refugees to Canada is one of the priorities of
Pride Uganda Alliance International (PUAI), based in Toronto. In November 2010, PUAI
approached the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International
Development in Ottawa for assistance.

They are still waiting for an answer.

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