Posts Tagged 'UN'

Is blasphemy coming back?

As Reverend Mother would say ‘when the Lord closes a door, somewhere he opens a window’. Not long after the UK has removed the crime of Blasphemy from its lawbooks, the UN has passed a draft resolution on ‘Defamation of Religion’. The draft resolution was passed on the 24th of November 2008 and calls on member states to amend laws and constitutions to prevent ‘Defamation of Religion’. This would conflict with the rights to freedom of opinion and expression (article 19) and freedom of thought, conscience and religion (article 18) as set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

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LGBT Rights are Human Rights

Today we celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the landmark document outlining the basic rights that every person on this planet should be entitled to. As a humanist, the Declaration embodies a lot of my core beliefs and principles based on rational thinking and compassion for all human beings. There will be many celebrations, vigils and events taking place throughout the world to attest to the importance and relevance of this document even today. If you want to join in, Amnesty International have suggestions and information as to events and actions you can take.

However, I’d also like to ask you to spare a thought for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community. Today, on this anniversay of human rights, the United Nations General Assembly will consider a declaration calling for the global decriminalisation of homsexuality. Despite sixty years of the human rights declaration this will be the first time that the UN General Assembly has considered LGBT human rights. The declaration will be tabled by France and is backed by all twenty-seven EU states, sponsored by Canada and supported by many other countries as well. Opposition comes mainly from religious groups and religious states. Individuals in the LGBT community face discrimination and persecution solely on the grounds of their sexual preferences and their capacity for love. Human rights apply to all human beings and no individual or group should be considered exempt from this. If you want to read more about the declaration, member state positions and current attitudes and criminalisation of homosexuality I recommend the recent article written by Peter Tatchell on the Guardian’s Comment is Free website.

UN Human Rights in trouble

There’s rather troubling news from the International Humanist and Ethical Union about developments at the UN Human Rights Council. It seems that an amendment has been passed which compromises the right to Freedom of Expression and changes the role of the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression. Without freedom of speech it is impossible to debate, criticize or expose abuses of any other human rights. The right to discuss or challenge opinions and beliefs is surely close to the heart of many humanists.

Further details can be found here.

International Year of Languages

Today a friend, brought to my attention that 2008 is the UN proclaimed International Year of Languages. As a linguist, I couldn’t resist writing about this.

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Human Rights Day!

Happy Human Rights Day everyone!

On 10th December 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In 1950 the General Assembly invited all states and interested organisations to celebrate this day, and the International Humanist and Ethical Union endorses it as an official day of Humanist celebration. It’s probably a bit late to start organising if you don’t have something planned already, but if you can, maybe treat yourself and a friend, colleague or family member to some cake or something in honour of both the rights and the way that people can work together to create something good and meaningful for all of us. There’s also a poster of the Human Rights Declaration available from the Amnesty International UK shop which is really attractive and stylish.

Best wishes to everyone!