The Brainwiz MUN 2013 Human Rights Council has started debate in its first meeting of the day on the highly controversial topic of the rights of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex people, more specifically addressing the issue of prevention of all forms of violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Since the dawn of human rights after the atrocities of the Second World War, the scope and the content of human rights remains contested until today. This divide show itself also in the current committee debate: the views of most of the Western and industrialized States favoring the promotion of LGBTI rights clashes with the more conservative views of mostly African and Middle Eastern States with their legal systems based on tradition and religious beliefs. The supporting side for LGBTI rights argues that human rights are inalienable and the end to discrimination of people due to their sexual orientation shall end rather sooner than later: “There exists a very high rate of suicide among members of the LGBT community due to legal discrimination and it is time to end this”, states the delegation of the United States of America, while the delegation of Switzerland calls to breaking out of the familiar thinking cycle to achieve real progress. The delegate of Montenegro concisely summarizes their stance: “Human rights are for everybody.” This claim to Universalism of Human Rights is, however, heavily contested. Opposing states favor the paradigm of “Cultural Relativism” stating that the norms collected under the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights (UNDHR) are a neo-imperialistic attempt by the West to impose their norms, beliefs and control over states voicing discontentment. These states contest the universality of human rights and their duty to adhere to rules not emanating from their own cultural system. While most of the opposing states refer to LGBT as unnatural and immoral, Uganda goes so far as to declare: “LGBT do not fall under human rights since LGBT are no humans. They have strayed from the right path and we have to get them back on track, even if that means by punishment.” Uganda has been put to the spotlight starting in 2009 by international media due to its radical Anti-Homosexuality Bill that will decree life-imprisonment for the crime of choosing homosexuality; the bill even included the death penalty. The bill is still pending but due to the public pressure has the death penalty been taken out. Uganda finds support in the delegation of Qatar: “Human rights exist to protect human beings for being human, being homosexual, however, is unnatural”, even though Qatar does not support the death penalty for homosexual persons.

The death penalty remains a hotly debated issue during the committee meeting and ranks high on the agenda of the LGBT-supporting Member States who would like to see it abolished. Other issues raised concern the blurry definitions of what exactly is considered as improper behavior (punishment for being homosexual per se vs. punishment for having sexual intercourse between people of the same sex). The committee thus turned to discuss ways in which the academic community could be engaged in further research into what is considered to fall under the expression of LGBT by different states with their respective cultural views, essentially to arrive at being able to refute the belief that LGBTI people are considered non-human. But as the delegation of Kenya concludes: “Science does not change our religious beliefs and values.” The issue of decriminalizing homosexuality does not seem to be fruitful as well: when the delegation of Spain suggested a clause accepting homosexuality as a practice between consenting adult humans, the delegation of Qatar drew an analogy: In the United States, cannibalism of consenting adults is prohibited by law, therefore consent and maturity could not be an adequate criteria. Furthermore, Qatar stated, it will not accept a definition of homosexuality that includes the notion of being homosexual being a natural state as opposed to one’s self-made conviction. “Sodomy is a criminal offense by divine law”, states Qatar. “Therefore it must be punished. The way of punishment may be open to discussion,” the delegate concludes cautiously. Support for the debate on decriminalization of homosexual acts therefore finds rare support among the African and Middle Eastern States of the committee, Malaysia even taking the stance that homosexuality is a disease and can therefore be cured. Although most of the others do not share this view, a common ground as a basis for a future resolution seems rare.