Barely two weeks after the United Nations Postal Administration released six new postal stamps promoting equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, a UN report again highlights the issue. The initial release of the colorful stamps by artist and UNPA art director Sergio Baradat was intended to celebrate the diversity of the gay community and shows the new spirited attitude of the UN towards the issue.
Stephen Cutts, UN assistant secretary general had at the time declared; “We need to change attitudes to one of acceptance,” and indeed the stamps support the UN human rights office Free & Equal campaign with a goal to promote fair treatment of the LGBT community. There is no doubt that this is a very touchy subject in Africa where homosexuality is criminalized in quite a number of countries, but the UN report seeks to address exactly that.
The report declares that criminalising homosexuality amounts to torture in many of the 76 countries where same-sex relationships are not allowed. Prof Juan Mendez, the organisations special rapporteur on torture, was the one who submitted the report to UN’s human rights council, in it he calls for decriminalisation of homosexuality and makes his point on the grounds that the bans, some of which carry the death penalty, legitimise homophobia and hate crimes.
The report says; “A clear link exists between the criminalisation of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons and homophobic and transphobic hate crimes, police abuse, community and family violence and stigmatisation,” his report says. It also exposes a practice which Prof Juan deems as medically worthless and amounting to torture and ill-treatment when he writes about subjection of suspects to non-consensual, anal examinations that are necessary to obtain physical evidence of homosexuality.
The report makes as one of its conclusions the fact that the countries in question “must decriminalise same-sex relationships between consenting adults and repeal all laws that criminalise persons on the basis of their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity or expression”. The report is welcomed and will continue to be welcomed by as many people as will not appreciate it, but its left to see what the outcomes, if any, will be on the various countries.