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  1. #1

    Happy Human Rights Day

    Human Rights Day reminds us of global persecution of gays
    By Paula L. Ettelbrick
    December 6, 2006

    As we commemorate International Human Rights Day this Dec. 10, more work must be done to ensure the dignity and equality of all human beings, including sexual minorities.

    This week at the United Nations in New York, more than four dozen U.N. member states will vote on whether three lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) groups from Europe will be granted official status to represent this community within the United Nations.....

    At the moment, there is no functioning group representing the voices and experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people at the United Nations.

    In fact, the United States has lobbied against LGBT folks for more than a decade. Just a year ago, the United States joined China, Cuba and Iran in voting against inclusion of LGBT voices at the United Nations, only to turn around after international activists and organizations expressed outrage at the overt discrimination committed by our own democracy......

    But there is hope. On Dec. 1, the United States signed on with 53 other governments at the United Nations to a simple proclamation calling for more discussion and attention to the human rights conditions faced by LGBT people around the world.

    Now, as the United Nations meets in New York, the United States must stand up for justice not only by voting to welcome in gay groups, but also by advocating on their behalf with other voting members of the committee.

    It is long past time to acknowledge LGBT people as human beings whose dignity and equality should be respected.

    The international process must start by including all of us in the most robust human rights body in the world -- the United Nations.

  2. #2
    AUTHOR: Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965)
    QUOTATION: The awareness that we are all human beings together has become lost in war and through politics.

    What is a right? A right is a "justified claim" on others. For example, if I have a right to freedom, then I have a justified claim to be left alone by others. Turned around, I can say that others have a responsibility to leave me alone.

    Moral rights are justified by moral standards that most people acknowledge, but which are not codified in law, and therefore have been interpreted differently by different people.

    One of the most important and influential interpretations of moral rights is based on the work of Immanuel Kant, an eighteenth century philosopher. Kant maintained that each of us has a worth or a dignity that must be respected. This dignity makes it wrong for others to abuse us or to use us against our will. Kant expressed this idea in a moral principle: humanity must always be treated as an end, not merely as a means. To treat a person as a mere means is to use a person to advance one's own interest. But to treat a person as an end is to respect that person's dignity by allowing each the freedom to choose for himself or herself.

    Negative rights, such as the right to privacy, the right not to be killed, or the right to do what one wants with one's property, are rights that protect some form of human freedom or liberty. These rights are called negative rights because each one imposes a negative duty on us -- the duty to not interfere with a person's activities in a certain area. The right to privacy, for example, imposes on us the duty not to intrude into the private activities of a person.

    Positive rights, therefore, are rights that provide something that people need to secure their well being, such as a right to an education, the right to food, the right to medical care, the right to housing, or the right to a job. Positive rights impose a positive duty on us -- the duty to actively help a person to have or to do something. A young person's right to an education, for example, imposes on us a duty to provide that young person with an education. Respecting a positive right, then, requires more than merely not acting; positive rights impose on us the duty to help sustain the welfare of those who are in need of help.