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Declaration of Montreal

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The Declaration of Montreal on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Human Rights is a document adopted in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, on July 29, 2006, by the International Conference on LGBT Human Rights which formed part of the first World Outgames. The Declaration outlines a number of rights and freedoms pertaining to LGBT people that it is proposed be universally guaranteed. It encompasses all aspects of Human Rights, from the guarantee of fundamental freedoms to the prevention of discrimination against LGBT people in healthcare, education and immigration. The Declaration also addresses various issues that impinge on the global promotion of LGBT rights. Intended as a starting point in listing the demands of the international LGBT movement, it will ultimately be submitted to the United Nations.

Background Edit

The Conference aimed to raise the international community's awareness of LGBT rights issues. It was held immediately prior to the Outgames themselves and attended by more than 1500 delegates from across the world, making it the largest LGBT rights conference ever held. A number of international experts took part including distinguished jurists, academics, church leaders and human rights activists. The delegates unanimously approved the Declaration.[1]

Among the keynote speakers to the Conference were:[2]

  • Louise Arbour - United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
  • Gene Robinson - Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire in the United States of America
  • Claire L'Heureux-Dubé - Former justice on the Supreme Court of Canada
  • Mark Tewksbury - Canadian swimmer and 1992 Summer Olympics gold medalist
  • Irshad Manji - Canadian author, journalist, and activist
  • Georgina Beyer - New Zealand politician, the world's first openly transsexual Member of Parliament
  • Waheed Alli - Asian businessman and United Kingdom life peer
  • Martina Navratilova - Former World No. 1 tennis player
  • Gérald Tremblay - Mayor of Montreal

The Declaration aims to address UN failings in consistently applying its Universal Declaration of Human Rights.[3] A number of fundamental freedoms, including the right to life, are violated in a number of member countries where homosexuality is criminalized. Homosexual acts are punishable by death in nine jurisdictions:[4] Afghanistan, Chechen Republic, Iran, Nigeria, Mauritania, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen.[5] They remain illegal in 72 countries,[6] and are in many cases punishable by imprisonment or corporal punishment.

Essential rights Edit

The Convention identifies several areas in which action needs to be taken to uphold the essential rights of LGBT people:

Protection against state and private violence Edit

The declaration calls for an end to the death penalty and all violence against LGBT people whether state condoned or by private parties. States are required to take steps to protect LGBT people from all hate crimes. Forced marriages to person of the opposite sex are identified as a particular human rights violations to be combated. Finally, violence against intersexuals, in particular unnecessary surgery to force conformity to rigid models of sexual characteristics, is condemned.[4]

Freedom of expression, assembly and association Edit

Laws which discriminate against LGBT people, such as bans of pride marches, LGBT journalism and registration of non-governmental organisations, are identified as a major stumbling blocks in campaigning for LGBT rights issues. The world community is therefore called upon to guarantee such rights and prevent their being denied by hostile public authorities.[7]

In addition, the international community is asked to take positive steps in promoting such rights. To this end, the Declaration calls for international development aid packages to be conditional on improvements in respecting human rights, including those of LGBT people. Financial aid is sought for groups campaigning for LGBT rights in areas where such people still fear for their lives or personal safety.[6]

Freedom to engage in consensual same-sex sexual activity Edit

The repeal of all laws preventing consensual same-sex activity is called for.[6]

Freedom from discrimination Edit

LGBT people face discrimination in many aspects of their lives. Governments are called upon to take positive actions to promote LGBT rights to freedom from discrimination in the following areas:

Asylum and immigration rights Edit

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees recognizes a right to asylum for those fleeing persecution based on sexual orientation or gender identity. All countries are called upon to do the same. In addition, rights of residence for foreign partners are demanded to be free from discrimination against LGBT people.[8]

Family rights Edit

Families are stated to be the most important part of many people's lives. The Declaration requires marriages to be opened up to same-sex couples, all unmarried couples to have similar partnership rights and ensuring equal access for all to every option for parenthood, including adoptions by LGBT people.[9]

Education healthcare, media and employment Edit

In education, classes on LGBT human rights are sought and schools are required to take action against homophobic bullying. The media are called upon to assist in breaking down stereotypes and to portray LGBT people in a realistic manner. The necessity of access to health care in general and for the specific needs of LGBT people is stressed. In particular funding for sex reassignment surgery is expected to be provided to the same extent that it is for other medically necessary treatments. Finally, religious groups are encouraged to be tolerant towards LGBT people.[9]

Employment Edit

The Declaration calls for the development of programmes to promote fair chances in employment and business for LGBT people in order for their economic independence to be insured. Governments are asked to lead by example in eliminating such discrimination and in promoting the equality and safety of LGBT people in public sector workplaces.[9]

Global issues in promoting LGBT rightsEdit

In order to promote LGBT rights globally, the Declaration requires the international community to engage in a worldwide information campaign and calls upon like-minded NGOs and governments to assist in preparing and running such a campaign. Part of this campaign would be to provide education about the prevention and treatment of HIV and AIDS among LGBT people and governments are generally encouraged to include LGBT people in their fight against HIV and AIDS.[8]

The failure of the United Nations to recognise LGBT rights as human rights is condemned. It is requested that the new UN Human Rights Council adopt LGBT rights as part of its agenda and that the International Gay and Lesbian Association and other LGBT rights organisations be amongst the NGOs that are able to consult with the Council.[8]

Implementation Edit

The Montreal borough of Ville-Marie was the first elected body in the world to officially adopt the Declaration in on August 1, 2006,[10] whilst the New Democratic Party became the first political party to do so, by a unanimous vote of its federal convention on September 10, 2006.[11] Accordingly, the NDP's critic for LGBT rights, Bill Siksay, presented a motion in the Canadian House of Commons calling on the Canadian government to abide by the Declaration on September 20, 2006.[12]

The Declaration has also been adopted by the City Councils of:[13]

  • Montreal, Canada
  • Brighton, United Kingdom
  • Barcelona, Spain
  • San Francisco, California, United States
  • Denver, Colorado, United States

See also Edit

References Edit

  1. Gay Games Montreal seen as 1st Class World Success. A2Mediagroup.com (2006-08-08). Retrieved on 2007-01-28.
  2. International Conference on LGBT Human Rights, and the First World Outgames. More Light Presbyterians (2006-08-13). Retrieved on 2007-01-29.
  3. L'ONU interpellée. Radio-Canada (2006-07-28). Retrieved on 2007-02-11.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Declaration of Montreal, 1. (a)
  5. The Death Penalty for Homosexual Acts. ILGA (2000-07-31). Retrieved on 2007-02-05.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Declaration of Montreal, 1. (c)
  7. Declaration of Montreal, 1. (b)
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Declaration of Montreal, 2.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Declaration of Montreal, 4. (b)
  10. Declaration of Montreal endorsed by Ville-Marie Borough!. fugues.com (2006-08-02). Retrieved on 2007-01-29.
  11. NDP formally adopts Declaration of Montreal on LGBT rights. billsiksay.ca (2006-09-11). Retrieved on 2007-01-28.
  12. Siksay calls for LGBT rights to be adopted. New Democratic Party (2006-09-21). Retrieved on 2007-01-28.
  13. Declaration of Montreal - Support, endorsements etc.. Declaration of Montreal website (2006-12-08). Retrieved on 2007-01-29.

External links Edit


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