Critical Analysis: Emerging LGBT Rights Across the United Nations

High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay (UN News Centre)

On October 2nd, Ukrainian lawmakers passed a law that would imprison a person for up to five years for positively representing homosexuality.  Human rights groups condemned the law as Soviet era oppression, which considered homosexuality a crime. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights spoke out against the law, stating that the legislation was clearly discriminatory and counter to fundamental human rights.

In the same week, Serbia banned a LGBT parade due to “security” reasons. This is the second year in a row that Serbia cancelled the parade. Serbia cancelled both in response to a 2010 parade that ended in violence. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights encouraged Serbia to confront prejudice instead of giving into it. The Commissioner highlighted that this was a step back for Serbia’s human rights protection that had made progress in recent years.

The United States is also wrangling over the rights of the LGBT community. Recently the Second Circuit became the second appellate court to rule that DoMA is unconstitutional. The general feeling is that DoMA will end up before the Supreme Court sooner rather than later. If DoMA is upheld, the Court would be denying same sex couples the legal rights of marriage.

All across the world, countries are struggling to ensure the rights of the LGBT community. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has not been shy in speaking out against these discriminatory laws. It will be interesting to see over the coming months if the High Commissioner will take on the United States if the US Supreme Court upholds DoMA, or if the Commissioner will reserve condemnation for less developed democracies. 

 Wesley Fry is a 3L and Managing Editor on the Denver Journal of International Law and Policy.

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