Law& Human Rights in America: Gay Rights

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SSP 245
Kenta Payne
10/01/2012
Gay Rights
Prof Blagojevic
“Gay people are born into every society in the world. Being gay is not a western invention, it is a human reality.” Secretary Of State Hillary Rodham Clinton -December 6, 2011, Geneva. Switzerland

In the aftermath of World War II (1939-1945), a delegation made up of sixty-five countries in six continents came together with the concept that all are created equal and are entitled to the highest level of respect, opportunity and dignity- regardless of race, sex, origin, religion, disability and sexual orientation. This concept, which would go on known as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), brought forth the powerful idea that human rights are a birthright, which is granted upon individuals born into any society. It also prevents future atrocities which serve as a threat to these rights, and it fully protects the inherent dignity and humanity of all people. Within the years since the passage of this declaration, we as a global society have made great progress in ensuring that human rights become a human reality, however, sixty-three years later, a group of people are still denied the potential rights most of us exert today --- the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community (LGBT). They are at times disowned by their families, terminated from their places of employment, persecuted by the public, and are subject to arrest, imprisonment and the death penalty. Gay rights is a very big issue to me because as an openly gay male, I find it hard to deal with the fact that individuals have to disclose their sexual orientation and gender identities to avoid facing public scrutiny, discrimination and judicial punishment just for being who they are. I also find it hard to deal with the fact that religion is used as a weapon to bring oppression towards the LGBT community. In my point of view, these are unfair practices which stem from the period of American segregation, and the South African apartheid- periods of civil unrest where individuals fought for equality as citizens. As stated by United States Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in her December 06, 2011 speech to commemorate human rights day, she has stated that universal human rights include “freedom of expression and freedom of belief (Article 19), even if our words or beliefs denigrate the humanity of others.1 Archbishop Desmond Tutu made it clear that he believes LGBT people are equal to their straight brethren in the eyes of God.2 So here’s where I ask the question: why is the preservation of gay rights important? In the past 64 years since the ratification of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we have made very good progress in ensuring that everyone—both young and old are rendered access the same amount of rights and opportunities needed to progress as citizens of this global society. After all the fighting, and campaigning in public squares and private spaces to change not only the laws that made human rights, laws a bestowment by only the governments, but it also changed the hearts and minds of individuals who used religious standards and social norms as an excuse to deny human rights to individuals. According to the universal declaration of human rights, we as human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights and are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood (Article 1). But this cannot happen when we take two steps back by denying a group of affluent individuals their share of the rights just for being who they are. On the American standpoint, the passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr hate crimes prevention act in 2009 serves as one of many drastic measures the United States haves taken to curb crimes against LGBT individuals. The repeal of don’t ask, don’t tell in September 2011 puts an end to discriminatory practices in America’s military. However, there is still more work to when it comes to...
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