The United Nations Security Council held its fist ever meeting on the rights and security of the LGBT community. They discussed attacks by ISIS on sexual minorities in areas it occupies in Syria and Iraq. This was the first meeting held on this issue in the 70 years the UN has existed.
The US ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, told reporters on August 24, “It’s about time, 70 years after the creation of the UN, that the fate of LGBT persons who fear for their lives around the world is taking centre stage,” (as quoted by Al Jazeera ).
The meeting was held by US and Chile and was open to all members of the UN that were interested in the plight of the LGBT community. The only countries that did not attend were Chad and Angola.
At the meeting, the envoys heard first hand accounts about the atrocities people suffered at the hands of the ISIS. They heard from Adnan, an Iraqi who fled northern Iraq after being identified as gay. They heard from former Syrian, and now US resident, Subhi Nahas, who was also threatened for her sexuality, and from Jessica Stern, executive director of the Gay and Lesbian Rights Commission.
Stern told the delegation that courts set up by ISIS in Syria and Iraq have claimed to punish sodomy by stoning, firing, beheading and pushing men of tall buildings.
ISIS had in December released photographs of its members pushing a man off a building and then stoning him to death for being gay. Two men were also reportedly stoned to death in November in Syria.
The terrorist organisation has claimed responsibility for killing 30 people for sodomy:
Subhi Nahas gave a different story than the other speakers. He spoke of the atrocities against gays under the Bashar Assad regime in Syria. He stated that the government launched a campaign accusing all dissidents of being homosexuals during the uprising in 2011. Not long after this, gay hangouts were raided and many people were arrested and tortured.
“Some were never heard from again,” he said, as Mashable reported .
Stern stressed that persecution of the LGBT community was taking place in Iraq and Syria long before the ISIS took control of the region. She appealed to the delegates and called for specific strategies to combat attacks against the community. This would include UN actions to relocate those in dire need and bringing in the LGBT community into the purview of human rights and humanitarian activity.
“I n my society, being gay means death, and when ISIS kills gays most people are happy because they think we are evil,” said Adnan.
In many ways, the ignorance shown by the United Nations towards the atrocities towards this community is extremely irresponsible. Even today, there are a number of member states that continue to persecute gays, lesbians, transgenders and bisexuals in their country. India happens to be one of those countries.
Not long ago, India voted in favour of a Russian resolution that proposed removing benefits for same-sex partners among United Nations staff. 43 countries supported this draft. Fortunately, the number of progressive countries outnumbered the discriminatory ones and the resolution was not passed.
The UN needs to take a stern stance on this issue and condemn the members that still impose draconian and regressive laws.