The Government of Guyana should vote to restore the reference to sexual orientation in the UN resolution on unlawful killings

Dear Editor,

This coming Monday, December 20,  the United Nations General Assembly will vote on whether to include protection for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in a crucial resolution on extra-judicial executions and other unlawful killings.

For the past 10 years, this resolution has urged states “to investigate promptly and thoroughly all killings, including… all killings committed for any discriminatory reason, including sexual orientation.”  It is the only UN resolution to ever include an explicit reference to sexual orientation. Just last month, Guyana voted with a number of states to remove the reference to sexual orientation from this important resolution.

States will have the opportunity to restore the reference to sexual orientation – and hopefully extend it to also include gender identity – when the resolution comes up before the UN General Assembly on Monday, December 20.

We call on the Government of Guyana to change its vote and to reverse the removal of sexual orientation from the resolution. This resolution seeks to bring attention to the most serious human rights violation, the loss of the right to life. The Special Rapporteur on extra-judicial executions has constantly underlined that people are subject to extra-judicial executions because of their actual or presumed sexual orientation or gender identity.

On International Human Rights Day, 2010, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon addressed a UN side event:
‘Ending Violence and Criminal Sanctions on the Basis of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.’ This panel was convened by, among other countries, Norway with whom the Government of Guyana is keen to benefit from the LCDS funding; and Brazil, whose President recently received our Order of Excellence.

The Secretary General in his remarks noted that “When individuals are attacked [or] abused … because of their sexual orientation, we must speak out… It is not called the ‘Partial’ Declaration of Human Rights.  It is not the ‘Sometimes’ Declaration of Human Rights.

It is the Universal Declaration, guaranteeing all human beings their basic human rights, without exception.”
We call on the Government of Guyana to do as it has done in the past, and to ensure that regardless of what the perceptions of gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender persons are, that the government will not endorse the torture or killing of people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

To fail to do so is to reverse the progress Guyana has made locally and internationally in advancing human rights.

Yours faithfully,
Joel Simpson
Namela Baynes-Henry
Vidyaratha Kissoon

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