The divide between the West and the African and Middle Eastern States seems only to get wider. The debate shifted to the inclusion of the term LGBT in the working paper, which many of the states, where Islamic law forms the basis of societal order, are unwilling to accept, among those the delegation of Moldova, the United Arab Emirates or Qatar, instead proposing the use of “people engaging in same sex activities.” Argentina correctly pointed out that the term LGBT refers to more than people engaging in same-sex activities, this remark however remains unheard and unconsidered of the opposing bloc. They insist on their position that homosexual activities are an unnatural inclination, even a sickness, which is a crime under Sharia Law – even the argument that they are simply respecting the wishes and beliefs of their citizens is brought forward. The delegation of the United States counters with a quote of former US Secretary-of-State Hillary Rodham Clinton: “A country’s cultural or religious traditions are no excuse for discrimination.” Mrs Clinton also said in that address that “Being gay is not a Western invention. It is a human reality.” The kingdom of Spain are “alarmed” that so many present member states attack a single word “which is very specific” as too broad without another glance at what the working paper proposes. The United Arab Emirates however feels that not a single proposal by their interest bloc has been included in the paper and they feel ignored by the West. After the break, there are two proposals on the floor, one from each bloc. In a short interview, a representative of either bloc briefly speaks about their goals:

Honorable delegate of the United States: What is the outcome that you would like to achieve in this conference on the elimination of discrimination for LGBT?
Delegate of USA: As we stated earlier in the spirit of the statement of our former Secretary-of-State Hillary Clinton: Human rights are gay rights and gay rights are human rights and that is the basis of our policy.

How do you plan to implement this policy?
USA: We want decriminalization of all these LGBT related acts. All around the world one must be able to choose and live freely their sexual orientation and gender identity. For a first step, our goal is to achieve the abolishment of the death penalty for LGBT. One should not kill because of the sexual orientation. In a next step, we want to achieve that also imprisonment is no longer an option. The cultural context is challenging, but we believe that if we change the law, we may in the end change the minds.

Honorable delegate of Qatar, what is your reaction to this goal?
Delegate of Qatar: Our laws do not evolve as they are god-given, and as god-given they are already complete and do not need evolution. We are trying at the moment to engage in diplomatic dialogue with the West. We can agree with changing the way the crime of sodomy is being punished. In our country, there is no death penalty but we can see around the world where that is still an option for the crime of sodomy. We would like to work on that consensus and agree on the way of punishing the crime, all while stating and underlining that it will stay a crime.

What will be the appropriate punishment in your understanding?
Q: Imprisonment under five years is the actual form of punishment for sodomy in our country and we think that this is a very good and appropriate way of doing so.

Is it your understanding then that this time in prison will, somehow, cure the people “afflicted”?
Q: Cure can be found in the Quran which will be provided in the prison and the time served in the prison will help them to go back to their original nature which is a heterosexual nature which is wanted and created by Allah.

The committee has mainly talked about the issues around homosexuality. What is your stance with regard to transgender or intersex people, the latter being naturally given?
Q: Intersex people have a biological problem and we are willing to help them, also in a medical way, we don’t see an issue with that. The issue of transgender, however, is a mistake of the mind, it is losing yourself by getting away from the core values.

Text and interview by Ronja Harder