Lanka’s decision to shun UN gay rights resolution flayed

December 21st, 2008 - 4:14 pm ICT by IANS  

Colombo, Dec 21 (IANS) A gay rights activist has flayed the Sri Lankan government for refusing to sign a “historic UN declaration” that urges member-states to decriminalize homosexuality.Sherman de Rose, director and founder of “Companion on a Journey”, has reportedly said they strongly oppose the move by the government on the UN homosexual declaration, which was approved by 60 member states who had urged UN member states to take necessary measures to end all criminal penalties against homosexual people.

“We are against the fact that we are being called criminals in our own land. We are not criminals, we are citizens. It is totally incorrect to call us criminals. We have the right to live and be treated as normal human beings,” the Sunday Times newspaper has quoted Sherman de Rose as saying.

“We have no right to stand by British law of the colonial era,” he has said.

According to experts, sodomy or anal intercourse is an offence under the penal code in Sri Lanka, but there was no known prosecution for nearly a century.

Sponsored by France, the declaration was backed by the 27 member European Union, but the US, the Vatican, Russia and China, along with all Islamic countries, refused to sign the declaration.

The non-signatories also included seven of the eight members of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) - Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Pakistan, the Maldives, and Sri Lanka. Nepal was the only signatory from SAARC.

According to the media report, Sri Lanka had also refused to sign a counter-declaration by Syria, which warned that decriminalising homosexuality may “legitimize paedophilia”. This declaration was signed by 57 countries, mostly from Catholic and Muslim countries.

The unprecedented gay rights declaration was submitted to the UN General Assembly by Argentinean ambassador Jorge Arguello, representing a third of the world body’s 192 countries.

The appeal is based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states in article one that “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”.

The European nations backing the declaration waged their campaign in conjunction with the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

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