Lesbian Caucus Addresses Open Letter To un Beijing +5 Special Session

2003-01-24 00:00:00

New York – The following statement was read at a press conference of the Beijing
+5 Lesbian Caucus at the United Nations, June 8, 2000.

An open letter from the Lesbian Caucus to the on General Assembly, Government
Delegates, Representatives from Non Governmental Organizations, and the media.

We are caucus at the United Nations General Assembly Special Session, comprising
of women from all regions of the world, gathered because of out shared concern
that the recognition of sexual rights and issues of sexuality in the UN's review
of the Beijing Platform for Action is under attack. Fives years ago we served
notice to the United Nations and the international community that the rights of
lesbian and bisexual women, indeed the sexual rights of all women, must be
acknowledged as part of the full spectrum of human rights. Now, five years
later, we are here to collect.

Our demand is not just about sex and sexuality, not is it just about the lives
of lesbians. It is about the totality of our lives. It is about recognizing that
human rights are universal, interrelated, interdependent, and indivisible. It is
about recognizing that human rights must not only be protected and respected but
realized. If one woman is denied human rights protections, then the human rights
of all women are at risk. When the safety of any group of women is not
considered worthy of protection, then no woman is truly safe. The attack on the
human rights of lesbians is an attack on the sexual autonomy of every woman.

We deplore the undermining of the human rights of lesbians, part of a systematic
attack on the rights of all woman that is being mounted at this conference.
Fundamentalist forces, both in the halls of the UN and in the world outside,
politicize "culture" and "religion" to serve as alibis for torture and murder,
or to defend practices of violence and abuse. We condemn this distortion if the
notion of sovereignty and the nature of faith. We affirm, in the words of
paragraph 9 of the Beijing Platform for Action, that, "While the significance of
national and regional particularities and various historical, cultural, and
religious backgrounds must be borne in mind," it is the duty of all states "to
promote and protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms."

The UN is indeed a microcosm of the world it represents. There is homophobia,
and hatred within it. These is also cooperation, and a commitment to advance
human rights principles and protection for discrimination. However, despite this
goodwill, some States have failed to support the sexual rights of woman, and
have failed to recognize the human rights of the full diversity of woman. Some
States have sought to undermine the economic and social rights of woman, and in
the process have injured the lives of all women, including lesbians. Some States
have used sovereignty as an excuse to deny the rights of their own citizens.
Some States have placed economic interest above the needs of the global

We, who have been dispossessed of out human rights, stand in solidarity with the
dispossessed. Lesbians come from every region, every country, every religion,
every culture, every race, every age group, every class, every part of every
society. We are citizens of the world. We demand that governments recognize out
human rights. We demand that the United Nations guarantee them, as they are
bound to do by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

We are holding to the promise of the Beijing Platform for Action. We demand that
Member States of the UN sustain that promise as well. The understanding that
"Women's rights are human rights" is not new. It grows from the promise of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, made explicit in the Vienna Declaration
and Programme of Action, and reaffirmed in the Beijing Declaration and Platform
for Action, that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
We demand that governments respect these commitments, and give meaning to them
through their actions. This is the founding principle of the United Nations
Charter. It is to that deeper promise that we hold governments accountable.