Human Rights Day

Today marks the 60th anniversary of Human Rights Day. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) has been described as a living document and as relevant as when it was written in 1948.

It is the foundation of international human rights law, the first universal statement on the basic principles of inalienable human rights, and a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations. As the UDHR approaches its 60th birthday, it is timely to emphasize the living document’s enduring relevance, its universality, and that it has everything to do with all of us. Today, the UDHR is more relevant than ever.

The theme of Human Rights Day 2008 is Dignity and justice for all. As nations celebrate all over the world this all important day, some Americans are hoping to bring awareness to their right to dignity and justice. The day is A Day Without A Gay and here is what they hope to accomplish by their protests:

Gay people and our allies are compassionate, sensitive, caring, mobilized, and programmed for success. A day without gays would be tragic because it would be a day without love.

As impressive as to the reasoning why gays have organized this protest today, it is important to remember that in the United States we enjoy a declaration of rights much older than the UN’s UDHR and have had the power to uphold it. It is a mockery in my humble opinion to use a somber day to protest. The citizens of the United States have never needed the UDHR. We have had a document that has enabled all our citizens the rights to dignity and justice. On the 60th anniversary of UDHR, 86 nations of the world cannot participate in A Day Without A Gay without fear of imprisonment or even death.

As Tatchell grimly notes, “86 countries (nearly half the nations on Earth) still have a total ban on male homosexuality and a smaller number also ban sex between women. The penalties in these countries range from a few years jail to life imprisonment. In at least seven countries or regions of countries (all under Islamist jurisdiction), the sentence is death: Saudi Arabia, Iran, Yemen, Sudan, Mauritania and parts of Nigeria and Pakistan.”

The purpose of bringing awareness to the rights of citizens all over the world is noble. The ability to afford the rights to the citizens is where the UDHR falls short.


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