The first two months of 2012 have been so very exciting at the UU-UNO. During this period we finally completed a legal process that took far longer and was more complicated than any of us expected to legally merge the UU-UNO with the UUA. The legal process was most complicated in New York, which is considered the losing state. We were not even informed that our application for merger had been approved. Rather we received notification that we were no longer a registered charity in New York State. As predicted, the process went more quickly and smoothly in theCommonwealthofMassachusettswhich is the gaining state. It was somewhat flattering that New Yorkdid not let us go all that easily, but their legal delays also delayed the implementation of many of the terms of our merger agreement with the UUA and the agreement between the UUA and the CUC to ensure that Canadians remain represented at the UN by the UU-UNO. With our reintegration legally approved, we can now move forward.
The International Council of Unitarians and Universalists which meets every two years, met in the Philippines in January. It was my privilege to address (virtually) the gathering and relate our history making four years at the UU-UNO. I also expressed our desire to work towards representing UUs worldwide. Our relationship with Canadians and Canadian congregations has never been better. We now have a new agreement with the Canadian Unitarian Council which is also working very well. It is our hope to take this relationship we have with Canadian Unitarians and replicate this with Unitarians and Universalists worldwide. The UUA , the ICUU and U/U member groups around the world will be exploring these exciting possibilities in the months ahead.
Love Beyond Borders
We are very proud of the work we’ve done on sexual orientation/gender identity human rights. In 2008 when we began our advocacy at the United Nations for sexual orientation/gender identity human rights, there was hardly any talk about these rights at the UN. There were nearly no policies, procedures or personnel in the United Nations system of 108 agencies dedicated to promoting equal rights for all regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Now just over four years later, the UN Secretary General regularly gives speeches urging nations to abolish laws which oppress their citizens only because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. There are now policies, procedures and personnel dedicated to fostering equality for and ending violence against people because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. This week the first-ever UN report on violence and oppression against people based on their sexual orientation and sexual orientation will be presented to the Human Rights Council for debate. The report was written by Charles Radcliff with help from his colleagues. The position which Charles holds was created within the last couple of years because the UU-UNO and others persistently raised these issues to the point that the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights created the first ever position dedicated to sexual orientation/gender identity human rights.
We have much to celebrate, but we are not about to stop or rest on past accomplishments. So in February we launched a new campaign: Love Beyond Borders to reinvigorate our advocacy for sexual orientation/gender identity human rights. As the Chair of the UN NGO Committee for Human Rights, we partnered with the UN NGO Committee for HIV/AIDS to host an exceptionally strong panel discussion on sexual orientation/gender identity human rights and how those rights relate to the global effort to eradicate HIV/AIDS. We had representatives from the UN, academia, civil society and activist. Our LGBT panel had representatives of all the letters: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender. We had strong attendance with a broad cross section of media, foundation, diplomatic representatives and civil society who were all very active during the question and answer portion of the event.
In the evening we had a fantastic fundraising event co-sponsored by the UU-UNO and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). We had strong volunteer support from the Stonewall Inn where the gay rights movement got its start and activists from all over New York City and from around the world. In attendance were celebrities from the Fashion World, politicians from city and state government, religious leaders from several traditions and civil society. We also raised some money for to continue our advocacy. Most importantly, we raised the consciousness of many activists to consider equal rights not only for those of us inNorth America, but for equal rights for everyone on earth.
I’ve had the privilege to speak at several congregations during the first two months of 2012. I was delighted to speak to the following congregations:
Shelter Rock UU Church, NY
South Frasier Unitarian Fellowship,Vancouver,BC
All Souls,New York,NY
The Work Ahead
This week, we’re in the midst of the Commission on the Status of Women. There are three thousand women here from all over the world to discuss how to empower women for a better world. Job one is to end gender violence against women; all women: straight, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans women. We are happy to see many of our UU-UNO supporters here for this very important two week conference from Canada and the USA. This is just a taste of what you will read in my next letter. The UN never stops working for peace and justice and neither do we. We welcome your comments and suggestions. Please be in touch.