A United Nations
joint statement calling for countries to decriminalize
homosexuality and keep LGBT people safe has been backed by
nearly every Western nation -- except possibly the
spokeswoman for the United States said the government has
not shown its support because the statement has not
been finalized, but U.K. gay activist Peter Tatchell
says it has been put through the final steps.
government often berates Zimbabwe, Burma, and Sudan over
their human rights violations," Tatchell said in an e-mail
on Wednesday. "These condemnations will ring hollow if
the U.S. refuses to support this U.N. joint statement.
This is a test of the U.S. government's commitment to
universal human rights. Washington will lose ever more
respect and credibility if it fails to endorse this
statement of support for LGBT human rights."
All 27 countries
in the European Union have already approved of the
French-proposed statement, to be submitted to the U.N.
General Assembly by December 20. The Vatican -- which
is neither a European Union member nor a voting
member of the U.N. -- denounced the declaration
last week. Additionally, several Eastern European countries,
Mexico, Japan, and Australia have pledged their
support to the statement. However, there is still not
enough international support for a majority.
Tatchell said the
joint statement represents a reduction from its
initial status as a declaration, which tends to carry
more weight in the United Nations. Some countries were
apprehensive about signing onto a declaration, but
consented to sign a joint statement instead.
Tatchell is asking Americans to contact their
representatives in Congress and the White House to
urge them to support the statement.
With the landmark
2003 case Lawrence v. Texas the U.S. Supreme
Court overturned 13 standing state laws that allowed
authorities to arrest and prosecute people for gay
sex. Still, neither sexual orientation nor gender
identity are protected under federal hate-crime
or nondiscrimination laws; such protections are urged
in the statement.
As of May 2008,
more than 80 countries around the world still criminalize
consensual sex between two people of the same gender,
according to a report by the International Lesbian and
Gay Association. Among those counties, seven consider
such offences punishable by death. (Michelle Garcia,