in the news/4
Volume 16/Issue 21

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
Meets With Int'l Lesbian & Gay Group
in Historic First

In an historic meeting on Oct. 8 the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, met with a delegation from the International Lesbian and Gay Association to discuss the advancement of Lesbian and Gay rights as human rights. This is the first meeting between a Gay organisation and a High Commissioner.

The International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) represents over 400 organisations in more than 75 countries around the world. ILGA has previously worked to stop homosexuality being classified as a disease by the World Health Organisation, with Amnesty International on the inclusion of Lesbians and Gay men as prisioners of conscience and most recently were granted consultative status with the Council of Europe. ILGA celebrates its 20th anniversary this year - making it the oldest international Lesbian and Gay lobbying group in the world.

Jennifer Wilson and Jordi Petit - joint Secretaries General, and Kurt Krickler, co-Chair of the regional division ILGA Europe, met with Mrs Robinson following an invitation from her office. "The meeting was extremely positive and is clearly the start of an on-going dialogue with the Office of the High Commissioner, especially as Mrs Robinson has now appointed a liaison person in her office for ILGA to maintain stronger links with" said Jennifer Wilson. Jordi Petit added "Her request for us to supply material to help in the training of Lesbian and Gay awareness for all UN employees and working groups, including rapporteurs and treaty bodies shows her recognition of ILGA as the peak NGO on Lesbian and Gay rights."

The meeting also discussed ILGA producing a definitive report on the human rights abuses of Lesbians and Gay men internationally and the Commissioner indicated that this would be extremely useful in lobbying the UN for the appointment of a special rapporteur on Lesbian and Gay rights. Currently Lesbians and Gay men are murdered by death squads in Mexico and Brazil; live in fear of the death penalty in Afghanistan, Iran and other nations under Sharia law; are denied access to Lesbian and Gay literature in Singapore and do not have equal human rights with heterosexuals in any nation of the world.

"It is clear that Mrs Robinson views her role as a catalyst - and information is the first tool to achieve change." said Kurt Krickler. A copy of the ILGA Europe report on the status of Lesbians ang Gay men in the 15 nations of the EU and a copy of ILGA's manifesto "Lesbian and Gay Rights are Human Rights" was left with the Commissioner. Another meeting is planned for early next year.


Task Force Announces Release of Ex-Gay Expose';
Denounces Latest Anti-Gay Attacks

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) recently announced the release of the most in-depth study ever done on the political character and role of the ex-Gay movement. The report, "Calculated Compassion: How the Ex-Gay Movement Serves the Right's Attack on Democracy," comes on the heels of the latest assault by the ex-Gay movement. On Oct. 8 right-wing groups announced an anti-Gay television ad series seeking to "change" people under the guise of love and compassion. Calculated Compassion was released Thursday, Oct. 15, at the New York Presbyterian Church in Washington, DC.

The ex-Gay movement portrays itself as a haven for "hope and healing for homosexuals." The report documents that the ex-Gay movement actually serves as a camouflage for a retooled and reinvigorated assault by the religious right on the legal protections against discrimination for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender persons. Calculated Compassion is a publication of NGLTF, Political Research Associates, and Equal Partners in Faith.

"We are not surprised by this latest assault, and we are not fooled by it. It's as dangerous and hurtful as it is aggressive and disingenuous," said NGLTF communications director Tracey Conaty.

"It is about hate, and it is about hope-hope to rid our country of the democratic ideals of equality, diversity, and fairness. We are confident that our report, Calculated Compassion, four years in the making, will reveal for once and for all the disturbing truth about the ex-Gay movement." added Conaty.


Oprah & Dateline Explore Coming Out

Recently both The Oprah Winfrey Show and NBC's Dateline explored the coming out process using profiles of Lesbian activist and author Chastity Bono as a springboard for discussions on that topic. On Sept. 28, Oprah featured a number of parents and their Lesbian and Gay children. Bono (GLAAD's former entertainment media director) was joined by her superstar mom Cher, a 1998 GLAAD Media Award-winner. Cher spoke of her initially negative reaction to Bono's sexual orientation and of the struggles she went through in learning to accept her daughter. Two other Lesbians, who were joined by their families, relayed their own more recent experiences as well.

On the Sept. 29 edition of Dateline, Bono and Cher told Dateline co-host Jane Pauley about the impact of Bono's coming out upon their relationship, which is chronicled in Bono's new book, Family Outing. Also covered in the piece: Cher's negative reaction, Bono's tabloid "outing," and the estrangement she had from her father, U.S. Rep. Sonny Bono, in the year leading up to his death.

Both programs brought wide-ranging audiences a greater understanding of a tough yet ultimately liberating experience: coming out to friends and family. Both shows made clear that the process can often be a painful one for families, but that the end result is often stronger, more loving relationships between child and parent.

Please thank both The Oprah Winfrey Show and Dateline for chronicling the process, the pain, and eventually the love and understanding that accompanies many Lesbian and Gay coming out experiences.

Contact: The Oprah Winfrey Show, PO Box 909715, Chicago, IL 60690, E-mail via WWW: http://www.oprah.com; and, Sharon Scott, Supervising Producer, Dateline, 30 Rockefeller Plaza #408, New York, NY 10112-0002, fax: 212.664.7864, E-mail: dateline@news.nbc.com [from GLAAD]


Anti-Gay Plan for Georgia Baptists

The executive committee of the Georgia Baptist Convention has developed two proposed membership requirements to be considered at a statewide meeting in November, one against charismatic worship and the other against approval of homosexual activity. Throughout its 176-year history, the Convention has imposed only two requirements on its member churches: financial support and "friendly cooperation with general purposes of the convention." It's now proposed to remove from the "rights and privileges" of membership any "deviant" congregation which "knowingly takes, or has taken, any action to affirm, approve or endorse homosexual behavior."


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