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SOCHUM Shares Views on LGBT Rights

By Cheryl Chin, Channel NewsAsia

Published: 20 Mar 2019 - 12:28 PM

The Committee in an unmoderated caucus, having a heated discussion

The Committee in an unmoderated caucus, having a heated discussion

On the 19th and 20th of March, 2019, the Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee (SOCHUM) discussed about the topic of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) rights.

From the beginning of the committee session, there was polarity between countries. There were countries that were supportive of the LGBT community and other countries that declined to implement LGBT rights.

Western democracies like the United States of America, Australia and France were keen to protect the LGBT community and their rights. The French delegate asks other delegates to ‘seek compassion’ and to ‘recognise them as humans’. She used the example of ‘Romeo and Juliet’, saying that if we can feel sorry for this tragic heterosexual couple, we should empathise with same-sex couples and their struggles. The delegate of the United States hopes that countries against the LGBT community can ‘gain acceptance steadily’ and ensure LGBT rights as time goes by. Nordic nations such as Norway and Sweden are pro-LGBT as well. The delegate of Norway said that the LGBT community deserve ‘equal human rights’ and they already have implemented rights like legalising same-sex marriages.

On the other hand, countries following the Sharia law, which include Iran and Yemen, as well as countries with Conservative Christianity like South Sudan are against the LGBT community. The delegate of Iran argued that giving the LGBT community rights would ‘go against the foundation of Islam’, due to her claim that Iran is an ‘Islamic republic’. She warned that giving rights would ‘threaten the social fabric of the country’ and refused to change the laws for the LGBT community in Iran. The delegate of South Sudan mentioned how people found to be in same-sex relationships will ‘face imprisonment of up to 10 years’. The delegate denies the implementation of LGBT rights as he feels it would ‘cause an uproar among the people’, adding to the conflict of the ongoing civil war.

The rest of the countries had mixed views about the LGBT community. Some nations were willing to protect the LGBT community from hate crimes but were reluctant to legalise same-sex marriage. The delegate of Iraq called for delegates to ‘stop violence toward the LGBT community’ but refuses to change their stance that the LGBT community do not deserve equal rights, due to their adherence to the Sharia law. The Chinese delegate had a relatively neutral stance on the LGBT community. He highlighted the ‘dere need to protect LGBT people’ despite his claim that China has ‘no proactive stance’ on the issue. However, he disapproves of media representation of the LGBT community in the media.

After sharing their views on the LGBT community, the delegates went on with the unmoderated caucus, where the polarity grew stronger. Delegates of countries against the LGBT community told their pro-LGBT counterparts to not force their ideals on them. These delegates feared that implementing LGBT rights in their conservative nations would stir up conflict among the religious community. The pro-LGBT delegates were saddened by the lack of acceptance for LGBT individuals and tried to convince the anti-LGBT nations to change their stand. In the next unmoderated caucus, there was an argument due to the accusation from the delegate of United States that conservative countries view the LGBT community as ‘less than human’. The delegates of anti-LGBT countries were offended by this claim, defending themselves by saying that the delegate of the United States was making it up. Among the accused was the delegate of Iran, who was greatly angered by this accusation. Shouting ensued as the delegates tried their best to support their respective stances.