International Human Rights Day, Get Involved!

More than 60 years ago, the United Nations declared December 10 International Human Rights Day. Partly a reaction to the horrors of the Second World War, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), in 1948, set out to define basic human rights and freedoms afforded to any person, regardless of race, gender or ethnicity.

Nearly all states have adopted the UDHR, and it has since been translated into more than 380 languages. But LGBT people across the world continue to face discrimination, persecution, or worse - for simply being who they are.  

"International Human Rights Day is an opportunity to highlight the ongoing challenges faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in communities around the world," said GLAAD President Herndon Graddick. "From the 'Kill the Gays' bill in Uganda, to the reportedly pending executions of twelve gay men in Libya, to the ever-present threat of violence against trans women around the globe, LGBT equality can literally be a life or death issue."   

Just last month, the intentional community paused for Transgender Day of Remembrance to remember the hundreds of transgender women whose lives were lost in the past year. According to Transgender Europe, there were 265 reported anti-trans murders worldwide between 2011 and 2012.  

As noted by Gwendolynn Ann Smith, founder of TDOR: "In 1999 a handful of transgender people sought to highlight the need for awareness around anti-transgender violence, which refers to attacks against people who are perceived as transgender -- regardless of how one may personally identify. To that end, we held the first Transgender Day of Remembrance event in the Castro district of San Francisco, holding the names of those we'd lost in silent testimony.Yet we still see anti-transgender violence. Every year, we still find ourselves with a list of people who have been violently murdered for simply being themselves.”

British media has reported that twelve gay men in Libya are facing execution by a militia, after they were abducted from a private party. The militia itself reportedly made this claim on its facebook page.

And any day now, the Ugandan parliament may vote on the horrendous “Kill the Gays” bill, the controversial legislation that calls for at least a life sentence in prison for gay and lesbian people, as well as imprisonment for anyone who does not “turn in” gay and lesbian people to the government. This would include parents, teachers, neighbors, doctors, clergy, and landlords. 

Box Turtle Bulletin has provided the most complete, up-to-date coverage of the bill. While the bill has been called the “Kill the Gays” bill, there is debate about whether the death penalty would be included. Additionally, faith leaders here in the US are speaking against the bill, joining Ugandan LGBT organizers like Frank Mugisha and Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera. 

Swift action is needed to publically condemn the bill. Pastor Joseph Tolton is the driving force behind Hope in Uganda, which has gathered signatures from African-American religious leaders throughout the United States who oppose the “Kill the Gays” bill. All Out is closing in on 250,000 signatures on their petition against the bill, with support coming from the United States, Canada, Iceland, the Czech Republic, Malaysia, Ireland, Brazil and many other parts of the globe. Since, petitions have sprung up targeting Citibank and Barclays, PepsiCo and The White House.

This International Human Rights Day, GLAAD encourages you to take time to sign these petitions and urge your friends and family to take action using the hashtags #VoiceCount and #4Rights.

Here are other ways you can get involved, from The Huffington Post.