Rep. Frank blasts Rice for snubbing gays at UN

Barney FrankU.S. Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., wrote to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Dec. 23 “strongly objecting” to the refusal by the U.S. Mission to the United Nations to join 66 other nations Dec. 18 in signing a statement affirming that international human rights protections include sexual orientation and gender identity.

It was the first time a statement condemning rights abuses against GLBT people was presented in the General Assembly. The declaration was read into the record by Argentine Ambassador Jorge Arg=FCello.

Frank wrote: “Compounding the administration’s failure to join virtually all of the other countries that genuinely believe in human rights in opposing acts of bigotry, the U.N. mission under your supervision issued a strikingly hypocritical justification.=A0According to The New York Times on Friday, unnamed ‘American diplomats and legal experts’ incredibly said that you could not support this because ‘it might be interpreted as an attempt by the federal government to override the states’ rights on issues like gay marriage.’ I assume you are aware that the administration of which you are a part on several occasions sent to Congress and pressed for passage of a constitutional amendment that would have done exactly what this statement claims you and the administration are opposed to: the constitutional amendment on marriage would not only have taken away the states’ rights to decide about same-sex marriage, it would have retroactively cancelled thousands of marriages that had occurred between loving people.”

The statement by the 66 countries affirmed “the principle of non-discrimination, which requires that human rights apply equally to every human being regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity,”
and denounced “violence, harassment, discrimination, exclusion, stigmatization and prejudice … because of sexual orientation or gender identity.” It also called for the decriminalization of gay sex, which is banned in at least 77 nations and punishable by death in at least seven.

The statement was signed by Albania, Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, France, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guinea-Bissau, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Montenegro, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, S=E3o Tom=E9 and Pr=EDncipe, Serbia, Slovakia, Sloveni= a, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Timor-Leste, United Kingdom, Uruguay and Venezuela.

Fifty-seven nations signed an alternative statement, promoted by the Organization of the Islamic Conference, that said universal human rights do not include “the attempt to focus on the rights of certain persons”
because “the notion of orientation spans a wide range of personal choices that expand way beyond the individual’s sexual interest in copulatory behavior with normal consenting adult human beings, thereby ushering in the social normalization, and possibly legitimization of many deplorable acts.”

The U.S. did not sign either statement.

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