A Brief Note on Universality and Solidarity

Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Sexual and gender identity minorities have rights, secular internationalist privileges granted the status of rights in light of their universality. On December, 2006, Norway presented the joint statement on the violations of human rights based on sexual orientation and gender identity, stating:

At its recent session, the Human Rights Council received extensive evidence of human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity, including deprivation of the rights to life, freedom from violence and torture.
We commend the attention paid to these issues by the Special Procedures, treaty bodies and civil society. We call upon all Special Procedures and treaty bodies to continue to integrate consideration of human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity within their relevant mandates.
We express deep concern at these ongoing human rights violations. The principles of universality and non-discrimination require that these issues be addressed. We therefore urge the Human Rights Council to pay due attention to human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and request the President of the Council to provide an opportunity, at an appropriate future session of the Council, for a discussion of these important human rights issues. (Strommen, 2006)

In 2011, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights released a report entitled “Discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.” The document delineates the generalized discrimination against those with sexual or gender identity minority status. It is not many individuals, statistically, but globally those numbers add up; also, the accumulated treatment of the vulnerable may stand as a sign of moral legitimacy, or weight if implemented.

In my own country, Canada, Section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, or a national bill of rights, states:

Equality Rights
Marginal note:Equality before and under law and equal protection and benefit of law
15. (1) Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.
Marginal note:Affirmative action programs
(2) Subsection (1) does not preclude any law, program or activity that has as its object the amelioration of conditions of disadvantaged individuals or groups including those that are disadvantaged because of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability. (84) (Government of Canada, 1982)

These parallel the principles of universality. Individuals with gender identity and sexual minority status have rights, realized in official statements privileges, for equality with everyone else, disregarding any religious, social, or personal feelings or thoughts about it. These rights amount to protections and instantiation of further equality.

I suggest running the experiment in your own country or state, territory, or province, to see the results of the alignment of rights for those with sexual or gender identity minority status with the international community. If they aren’t there, maybe, this is an area for positive activism for you.

The universality of the rights, and the areas for improvement of the lives of others who tend to be vulnerable, seems like an important note to me. Plus, it’s easy to do it and something important, too.

References

Government of Canada. (1982). Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Retrieved from http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/Const/page-15.html.

Strommen, H.E.W.C. (2006, December 1). 2006 Joint Statement: 3rd Session of the Human Rights Council Joint Statement. Retrieved from http://arc-international.net/global-advocacy/sogi-statements/2006-joint-statement/.

UNHCR. (2011, November 17). Discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. Retrieved from http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/Discrimination/A.HRC.19.41_English.pdf.

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