2005 Joint Statement

Joint Statement on Sexual Orientation & Human Rights

Delivered by New Zealand

Commission on Human Rights, March 2005

I have the honour to make this statement on behalf of Andorra, Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Mexico, New Zealand, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Uruguay and Venezuela.

It has been sixty years since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights first set down that all human beings are equal in dignity, in rights and in freedoms, without distinction of any kind. Over the past decade, the Human Rights Committee, the Committee on Economic, Cultural and Social Rights and the Committee on the Rights of the Child have all found that sexual orientation should be understood to be a status protected against discrimination. And, it has been two years since Brazil first tabled their draft resolution at this Commission seeking to condemn discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

Mr. Chairman, we deeply regret that this Commission is still not ready to address that resolution today. We cannot ignore the mounting evidence of serious human rights violations against individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation, reported by the human rights treaty bodies and the Commission’s special procedures. It is beyond any doubt that in all too many parts of the world, individuals are being deprived of their rights to life, to health and to freedom from torture and violence. These human rights violations have been brought to our attention, and we must respond. To remain silent, is to condone some of the worst forms of discrimination.

Sexual orientation is a fundamental aspect of every individual’s identity and an immutable part of self. It is contrary to human dignity to force an individual to change their sexual orientation, or to discriminate against them on this basis. And, it is repugnant for the State to tolerate violence against individuals. All States must exercise due diligence to prevent, investigate, prosecute and punish the perpetrators of violence committed against individuals because of their sexual orientation. We fully support, therefore, the Nordic resolution on Extra-Judicial, Summary and Arbitrary Executions that established that killings of individuals because of their sexual orientation is a human rights violation.

Mr. Chairman, we recognise that sexuality is a sensitive and complex issue. But, we are not prepared to compromise on the principle that all people are equal in dignity, rights and freedoms. This Commission must uphold the principle of non-discrimination. We urge all States to recognise this common ground and to participate in debate. We hope this Commission will not be silent for too much longer.