How Gay Rights Reached the UN (VIDEO)


UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay released a video Thursday that details how the United Nations came to take up the issue of gay civil rights.

The question of civil rights for gay people was brought before the UN when, in the early 1990s, Tasmanian gay rights activist Nick Toonen launched a discrimination case with the UN over his country’s anti-gay laws. In 1994 the UN upheld his complaint, a decision that would reverbarate around the world because it was the first time the UN had acknowledged that the right to live a life free from discrimination applies regardless of sexual orientation.

In the video below Commissioner Pillay discusses the history of the UN’s stand on gay rights and the work that is still to be done in the wider LGBT rights field.

A little more about Nick Toonen from the Tasmania Gay and Lesbian Rights Group:

Nick Toonen said he was proud to have been involved in such an important moment in the advancement of human rights.

“It’s humbling that so many people around the world have benefitted from the decision in my case”, Mr Toonen said.

“The obvious message from the case was that gay rights are human rights, but equally important was the message that everyday people like me can take effective action to protect human rights.”

“My case was very much a group effort and I want to acknowledge everyone who fought for gay law reform in Tasmania as well as the many gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people around the world who continue to fight for their rights and their lives.”

Following the UN’s 1994 decision, Tasmania’s federal government passed the Human Rights (Sexual Conduct) Act which rendered state law banning same-sex sexual relations outmoded. As such, LGBT rights activists took a case before the High Court to have those antiquated state laws struck down, and the state level bans were finally repealed in 1997. Tasmania has since gone on to adopt some of the most progressive LGBT rights legislation in Australia.

Related Reading:
U.N. Approves Resolution Against Anti-Gay Discrimination
Hillary Clinton: LGBT Rights an ‘Urgent’ Struggle (VIDEO)
International LGBT Rights Group Awarded UN Accreditation

Photo used under the Creative Commons Attribution license with thanks to -Marlith-.


Dawid Blyth
David B.5 years ago

I salute Scarlett P - the "interpretations" that we see from Christopher are aberrations trying to shoehorn disordered behaviour into acceptance. The Hebrews quite rightly considered homosexuality as immoral and sinful.

Scarlett P.
Scarlett P.5 years ago

*justify any way you want...

Scarlett P.
Scarlett P.5 years ago

You can justify anyone you want.. homosexuality is a sin, God made woman for man.. not man for man, not woman for woman.. We as christians are to love the sinner, but can not accept the sin..

Christopher C.
Chris C.5 years ago

Also Scarlett, if your mis-interpretation is correct, then you better obey "ALL" the Levitical laws, not just the ones you try to win an arguement with.

Christopher C.
Chris C.5 years ago

And also: PTL...Poor old St. Paul is so misunderstood. Two-thousand years ago St. Paul condemned gay sex as "against nature" and his viewpoint has been taken for justification for centuries of persecution against gay people. A careful reading of St. Paul"s Epistle to the Romans, shows Paul was condemning straight Christian men and women who were having sex with temple prostitutes of the same sex in pagan Rome. The unnatural action was trying to teach the Roman Christians to lead a moral life and worship God in some measure of purity, "decently and in order." Paul was not writing about gay people having sex with gay people. He probably never heard of same sex people whose natural state ws sex with people of the same gender. He never heard of same gender people being in a relationships with each other. He never conceived of gay people wanting to marry other gay people. The word homosexual was not invented till the 19th century. Certainly the words gay and lesbian are a tad more recent in usage than was the case in St. Paul's time in the first century. Paul was condeming unnatural behavior among straight people. Taking Paul's words out of context is a favorite tool of Christian fundamentalists as well as Biblically illiterate critics of Christianity. The fact that people down through the ages lead on Paul's words to condemn homosexuality is no excuse for the intelligent to do the same in making their case for the rights of homosexuals.

Christopher C.
Chris C.5 years ago

It further states in Mathew 10:15 Jesus was referring to the lack of welcome as the sin in Sodom. "This was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy."

Christopher C.
Chris C.5 years ago

Scarlett, you better "re-read" into what the bible REALLY says in Leviticus: If you read all of 18:1 through 19:29 you'd understand that Lot, Abrahams nephew and an outsider (alien) to the citizens of Sodom. Additionally the phrase uttered by the men of Sodom, "Bring them out to us, so that we may know them" does not have to be interpreted in a sexual manner (like so many so-called christian pure minds always seem to travel in that direction). The mis-interpretation of it is to think of it as a gang-rape. But it was actually part of the towns people to find out who these strangers are that are staying at the house of a resident alien. By reading 18:1, one can compare & contrast the hospitality offered to the strangers by Abraham and Lot to that of citizens of Sodom. This lack of welcome seems to be Jesus understanding of the sin of Sodom as indicated in Matthew 10:14-15, Ezekiel 16:49 refers to the Sin of Sodom: "This was the guilt of your sister Sodom; she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy". There is nothing in the story of Sodom that justifies condemnation of homosexuality. There is much in the story that suggests strangers be welcomed , given hospitality. How ironic that this story is used to condemn and be "inhospitable" to lesbians and gay men, the "strangers" among us. Those who really commit the sin of sodom are those who do not welcome the different ones, the strangers among us.

Asiatic Lion
Asiatic Lion5 years ago

thanks for sharing

Vicky Locke
Vicky Locke5 years ago

No, The U.N. did not start the gay rights movement (search Stonewall), but it HAS furthered the cause. I, for one, strongly support equal rights for all.

Lynne B.
Lynne Buckley5 years ago

It's about time that this did happen, but there's a long way to go when you consider some of the actions and rhetoric spoken by members.