Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

UN Defends Gay Rights; Calls for the End of Homophobic Violence

(Photo courtesy of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights)

Geneva, Switzerland – A hard-hitting, historic report calling on the nations of the world to defend the rights of gay people has been issued by the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights of the United Nations in Geneva.  For the first time, the world body has detailed the the murder, bias-motivated violence, torture, police detention, discrimination in jobs, health care and education that LGBT people face on a daily basis because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.  The report, which may be accessed here, was released on December 15 in response to the high number of reports of anti-gay human rights abuses flowing into the international body, according to the UN News Service.

In part, the report states, “The criminalization of private consensual homosexual acts violates an individual’s rights to privacy and to non-discrimination and constitutes a breach of international human rights law.”  Decrying violence against LGBT persons, the High Commissioner concludes that “Homophobic and transphobic violence has been recorded in all regions . . . Violence against LGBT persons tends to be especially vicious compared to other bias-motivated crimes.”  Data show that homophobic hate crimes often include “a high degree of cruelty and brutality.”

The hate crimes statistics in the report are horrific.  Lifting up the transgender and gender variant population, the High Commissioner reports, “The Trans Murder Monitoring project, which collects reports of murders of transgender persons in all regions, lists 680 murders in 50 countries during the period from 2008 to 2011.”  That said, the effort to collect data on murder and other acts of physical violence against LGBT people is complicated by the practice of nations around the world, either neglecting to collect these statistics, or outright refusing to allow their collection.

While over thirty nations have decriminalized homosexuality in the last two decades, 76 countries still make consensual acts between same-sex persons illegal, and at least five, Iran, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen, make homosexual conduct punishable by death.

The High Commissioner, Navi Pillay, calls upon the nations of the world to “Repeal laws used to criminalize individuals on grounds of homosexuality for engaging in consensual same-sex sexual conduct, and harmonize the age of consent for heterosexual and homosexual conduct; ensure that other criminal laws are not used to harass or detain people based on their sexuality or gender identity and expression, and abolish the death penalty for offences involving consensual sexual relations.”

Further, High Commissioner Pillay “calls on countries to ensure that no one fleeing persecution because of their sexual orientation or gender identity is returned to a territory where their life or freedom is at threat, and that asylum laws recognize that sexual orientation or gender identity is a valid basis for claiming persecution,” according to the UN News Service.  Ms. Pillay also recently held press conferences appealing to member nations to abolish homophobic bullying leading to the suicide of young LGBT people.

The report intensifies the call to member nations, issued last year by UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon, to “reject discrimination in general, and in particular discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.”

December 18, 2011 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Bisexual persons, Bullying in schools, gay bashing, gay men, Gender Variant Youth, GLBTQ, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Lesbian women, LGBT teen suicide prevention, LGBTQ, Social Justice Advocacy, transgender persons, transphobia, United Nations | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on UN Defends Gay Rights; Calls for the End of Homophobic Violence

Lesbian Police Officer Promoted in Dallas: Congratulations!

Officer Laura Martin, LGBT Liaison Officer for the DPD, receives her promotion badge from Police Chief David Brown

Dallas, Texas – Officer Laura Martin, the Dallas Police Department’s LGBT Liaison Officer, has been promoted to Senior Corporal. According to the Dallas Voice, Martin was one of 37 officers promoted to the rank.  Making her achievement even more notable is that out of 400 who took the exam this year to become Senior Corporal, Martin earned the top score.  She received her badge of promotion for Dallas Police Chief David Brown in a ceremony held the first full week of December.

Martin, a lesbian, has been with the Dallas Police Department for the past 14 years, and has been the department’s LGBT Liaison Officer for the past five years.  She has been instrumental in improving communications between city police and the large Dallas LGBT population.  When crimes affecting the queer community occur, Martin is called in, and she often makes public statements to interpret police actions in sensitive cases.  DPD relationships with gays and lesbians have been rocky in the past, especially in instances when the Oak Lawn/Cedar Springs community was not informed of crimes in a timely manner by the police.  Martin’s advocacy and professionalism have helped sensitize fellow officers to the issues facing the LGBTQ community, and likewise have made gay people feel they have a voice in the department, speaking up for their concerns and rights.

Martin is currently working primarily in the Dallas Police Department’s Northwest Division.  Her duties include membership in a community engagement unit.  When questioned by the Voice about whether this promotion would change her venue or her current duties, Martin said that she did not expect any changes in the near future.

Dallas is fortunate to have the professional service of a fine officer like Senior Corporal Laura Martin as Liaison to the LGBTQ community.  The Unfinished Lives Project Team, who are engaged in anti-LGBTQ hate crimes education and prevention, join Officer Martin’s many friends and admirers to say, “Congratulations, Laura!”

December 18, 2011 Posted by | African Americans, Anglo Americans, Dallas Police Department, GLBTQ, hate crimes prevention, Law and Order, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, Texas | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Lesbian Police Officer Promoted in Dallas: Congratulations!


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