C'MON BAN KI-MOON, TALK ABOUT GAY PEOPLE!
This video, taken at the World Affairs Council at the Fairmont Hotel here in the city by the bay just the other night (side note:San Francisco is also the site of the very first UN conference in '45), made me side split it did. Not only did I LOL, but boy did I ever ROTFL (roll on the floor laughing, for those of you not familiar with the hip new lingo). Activists Michael Petrelis and Hank Wilson, yelling at the top of their lungs and totally drowning out UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, shout "WE CAME HERE TO TALK ABOUT GAY PEOPLE AROUND THE WORLD! TALK ABOUT GAAAAY PEE-POOOLE!"
I had a flashback to my super-serious student reporter days, when I attended a city council discussion to pass a resolution to bring back the troops or impeach the president, one of the two. Regardless of the topic at hand, a librarian-esque withering lady with frail features and wiry gray hair slowly made her way up to the podium and announced to a flood of patchouli-infused activists and crusty professor-looking city councilmembers, "There's all this talk about the war and the human devastation in Iraq...but what about all the flora and fauna? What about all the wildlife and trees that are being damaged or outright destroyed out there?"
Instantly I equated the absurdity of the local Santa Cruz political scene to what appeared to be another bit of the absurd at the UN meeting. But these chants, as humorous as they sound when one perceives them to be out of context, don't seem so LOL funny when one considers the UN's relationship with the LGBT community.
As of one week ago, the UN had not given any LGBT or sexual minority group consultative status, which is the only way that a non-governmental organization (NGO) can be legitimately recognized, consequently then able to participate in UN meetings, submit written statements, host panels, and gain access to UN buildings. In January of 2006, two of the largest LGBT NGOs were summarily denied status without appropriate consideration or review.
But just last week, United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) delegates finally allowed the Coalition gaie et lesbienne du Québec and the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights (RFSL) consultative status.
Why should the UN become involved in gay rights around the world? Because if no one in this country, or in any of the other western industrialized member states like the French Republic or the United Kingdom, will set an agenda acknowledging the persecution of sexual minorities as an obvious and base obstruction of human rights, the atrocities inflicted upon LGBT communities will go on, and all the pie-in-the-sky ideals about maintaining social progress, human dignity and the like will be lost in the UN.
From a Human Rights Watch article, on its site, in 2006:
As the U.S. government acknowledged in its 2004 country report on Iran, Iranian law punishes homosexual conduct between men with the death penalty. Human Rights Watch has documented four cases of arrests, flogging, or execution of gay men in Iran since 2003. In its 2004 country report on Zimbabwe, the U.S. government noted President Robert Mugabe’s public denouncement of homosexuals, blaming them for “Africa's ills.” In the past, Mugabe has called gays and lesbians “people without rights” and “worse than dogs and pigs.”
Hank Wilson, one of the protesters heckling K-Moon, said,"The United Nations never fails to speak out against injustice and human rights violations as they happen, but they are criminally silent when it comes to the murders of lesbians and gay men."
I salute Petrelis and Wilson. As San Francisco Bay Area residents and members of the LGBT community, their brand of political activism and expression is not limited to prancing around in a leather daddy parade in a vile attempt to create a public sex spectacle that only stigmatizes their community even more.
Masha Gessen is the author of *The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia*, which will be published in October. In the July issue of Har...
2 hours ago