First and foremost on the international stage, a HUGE disappointment, but not entirely surprising: The United Nations General Assembly has voted to REMOVE sexual orientation from their original resolution condemning extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.

This essentially means that killings that involve anyone from the LGBTQ community are now no longer looked down upon or investigable by the UN. So much for equal protection!

The motion to make this horrifying change was made by Benin (West Africa) and was adopted with 79 votes in favor, 70 against, 17 abstentions and 26 absent.

“This vote is a dangerous and disturbing development,” said Cary Alan Johnson, Executive Director of IGLHRC. “It essentially removes the important recognition of the particular vulnerability faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people - a recognition that is crucial at a time when 76 countries around the world criminalize homosexuality, five consider it a capital crime, and countries like Uganda are considering adding the death penalty to their laws criminalizing homosexuality.”

This decision in the General Assembly flies in the face of the overwhelming evidence that people are routinely killed around the world because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation, and renders these killings invisible or unimportant.

The Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions has highlighted documented cases of extrajudicial killings on the grounds of sexual orientation including individuals facing the death penalty for consensual same-sex conduct; individuals tortured to death by state actors because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation; paramilitary groups killing individuals because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation as part of “social cleansing” campaigns; individuals murdered by police officers with impunity because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation; and States failing to investigate hate crimes and killings of persons because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation.

These are the countries to now officially avoid and condemn outright. SHAME LIST:

Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belize, Benin, Botswana, Brunei Dar-Sala, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, China, Comoros, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Cuba, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uzbekistan, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, and Zimbabwe

And this story from The Toronto Star, where Iranian Gays are calling Canada their 'sanctuary':

Harassment, discrimination and imprisonment mark the government’s treatment of homosexuals in Iran. It’s an echo of the continuing mistreatment of the Baha’i religious minority in Iran, the persecution of women who try to make their own choices, the recent imprisonment of an Iranian Canadian blogger — anyone, in fact, who challenges the official values and world view of the clerical dictatorship in that country.

For many of those victims, Canada has become a sanctuary, as the Star’s David Graham has described in a series that began last weekend. The articles describe a virtual underground railroad that helps to spirit gays out of Iran, into refugee limbo in neighbouring Turkey, and ultimately to Canada, where many already have family among émigrés who have come since the Iranian revolution.

For the full story, see: Toronto Star.