PRESS RELEASE

Libya’s Islamist objection to gays dampers hopes of Arab Spring

GENEVA, Feb. 13 – Gays threaten the continuation of the human race, Libya’s delegate told a planning meeting of the UN Human Rights Council today, reported the Geneva-based UN Watch monitoring group. It was the first appearance in the 47-nation body by the post-Gaddafi government, whose membership was restored in November following Libya’s suspension in March.

Protesting the council’s first panel discussion on discrimination and violence based on sexual orientation, scheduled for March 7th, Libya’s representative told the gathering of ambassadors today that LGBT topics “affect religion and the continuation and reproduction of the human race.” He added that, were it not for their suspension, Libya would have opposed the council’s June 2011 resolution on the topic.

In response, council president Laura Dupuy Lasserre said that “the Human Rights Council is here to defend human rights and prevent discrimination.”

The Libyan outburst prompted questions by human rights activists about Libya’s reinstatement on the council.

“We were happy to see the Gaddafi regime finally suspended last year,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, which in 2010 led a campaign of 70 human rights groups to expel the Libyan dictator from the council membership, “but this is not the Arab Spring we hoped for.”

“Today’s homophobic outburst by the new Libyan government, together with the routine abuse of prisoners, underscores the serious questions we have about the new regime’s commitment to improving on the dark record of its predecessor, and about its pandering to Islamists in its ranks,” said Neuer.

In November, when the UN General Assembly reinstated Libya on the council, deputy UN envoy Ibrahim Dabbashi said “the new Libya deserves to return to the Human Rights Council to contribute with other members to the promotion of values of human rights.”

“No violations of human rights will take place on Libyan territory in the future and if it happens the perpetrator will never get away with it,” he vowed.

According to Neuer, however, “the restoration of the new Libyan regime to the council, supported by 123 states including all of the Western democracies, was carried out precipitously and without any record of its commitment to human rights domestically and abroad.”

“Gays are now paying the price, with their right to be free from violent attacks now being undermined at the UN by a country that democratic countries fought to liberate, and by a goverment that our leaders helped install. It’s all very disconcerting.”

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