From Declarations

Imagine a Free & Equal World: International Human Rights Day

Today is International Human Rights Day and a celebration of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations on December 10, 1948.

“Upholding human rights is in the interest of all. Respect for human rights advances well-being for every individual, stability for every society, and harmony for our interconnected world,” United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

In 2006, in response to well-documented patterns of discrimination and violence against LGBT persons and their families, a distinguished group of international human rights experts met in Yogyakarta, Indonesia to outline a set of international principles relating to sexual orientation and gender identity. The result was the Yogyakarta Principles, a universal guide to human rights which affirm binding international legal standards and moral imperatives with which all States should recognize.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights from 1948 and the Yogykarta Principles from 2006, help us imagine a different future where all people born free and equal in dignity and rights can fulfil that precious birthright.

The United Nations Free and Equal campaign created this wonderful Bollywood video featuring Celina Jaitly, Equality Champion, The Welcome. This film captures the heart and spirit of human dignity and these human rights principles we remember on this day. Our hope, prayer and work is that this story will be the reality for every LGBT person and their family some day soon. We are all children of God and one human family.

Photo: LGBT rights march in El Salvador. Courtesy of Amnesty International.

Celebrating International Human Rights Day and the Jakarta Declaration

It was an idea whose time had come. For two decades, Rev. Dr. Stephen Suleeman, lecturer at Jakarta Theological Seminary, held fast to a dream for a LGBT-affirming faith conference in Indonesia. His dream was realized with the International Consultation on the Church and Homophobia, November 23 – 26 at Jakarta Theological Seminary.

When Stephen invited me to come to Jakarta for this historic, first-ever LGBT faith conference in Indonesia, the only possible answer was “yes.” The journey for Stephen and the seminary was two decades and my journey to Jakarta was 9,809 miles.

Today is the International Human Rights Day and a celebration of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations on December 10, 1948. This recent conference in Jakarta embodied the heart and spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights particularly as it relates to LGBT persons and their families. Read more

Because You Are, Therefore I Am

“Because you are, therefore I am,” was the greeting that Dr. Ezra Chitando from Zimbabwe expressed to our amazing group of African scholars, theologians, faith leaders, activists and students at the Thorn Tree Lodge, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. Dr. Chitando’s words to us were more than a greeting as they are often spoken in the context of a common African identity and an affirmation being known, understood and respected in community.

Dr. Chitando shared the justifiable suspicion of this statement by African women scholars: “Because I am a man and you are a woman, you are not” and extended it to “because I am a heterosexual and you are a homosexual, you are not.” He concluded that this traditional African statement must be used to include, rather than exclude people. Read more