More countries join in opposing criminalisation of homosexuality

This week, 85 countries issued a Joint Statement in the Human Rights Council in Geneva calling for an end to the criminalisation of homosexuality. The Joint Statement was in part a Dutch initiative. Intensive lobbying by the Netherlands, the US, France, Brazil and other countries succeeded once more in winning more countries’ endorsements than for similar calls in previous years.

The Netherlands constantly works to promote the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, both in international forums and through direct contacts with other countries. In December 2008 the Netherlands, France and 64 other UN member states presented a declaration in the General Assembly calling for an end to criminal penalties on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Violations of gay and lesbian human rights are common around the world. In many places openly expressing one’s sexual orientation can be dangerous and even life-threatening. Homosexual behaviour is a criminal offence in over 80 countries; in seven countries sex between men even carries the death penalty.