Bil Browning

New UN President: Being Gay Is "Unacceptable"

Filed By Bil Browning | September 23, 2009 5:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Ali Abdussalam Treki, gay rights, LGBT rights, Libya, UN President, UN resolution, United Nations

The new President of the United Nations, Ali Abdussalam Treki, held a press conference today on a wide range of topics. Treki is from Libya, an Arabic country with a poor track record on LGBT rights.

ali_abdussalam_treki_un_president.jpgWhen Treki was asked about a UN resolution calling for the universal decriminalization of homosexuality worldwide, he declined to support the resolution.

"[T]hat matter is very sensitive, very touchy," Treki said. "As a Muslim, I am not in favor of it ... it is not accepted by the majority of countries. My opinion is not in favor of this matter at all. I think it's not really acceptable by our religion, our tradition"

"It is not acceptable in the majority of the world. And there are some countries that allow that, thinking it is a kind of democracy ... I think it is not," he added.

Strangely enough, it was a Congressional Republican who rose to the LGBT community's defense. The ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs committee, Florida's Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, told On Top Magazine, "The anti-gay bigotry spewed by this Qaddafi shill demonstrates once again that the UN has been hijacked by advocates of hate and intolerance."

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I feel so bizarrely conflicted about her response. I've had to hold my fingers in my ears over the din of Far Right UN-fear-mongering for years... and yet... I don't know how I feel about what she said. There's like 12 different messages twisted up in there.

Gah. Why did he say that??? Ugh! Maybe he's trying to win favor with the Far Right? Maybe the Far Right is going to move to the left on gay stuff now? What do they hate MORE the UN or gays?

Arab governments are no friend of gay people or free expression.
But the UN is a very good to Arab governments.

Stop throwing all intolerance into one stew. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is a co-sponsor of ENDA.

Phil's ignorant rant aside, Illeana is my state rep and I'm rather proud of her. First female Cuban American to be elected to the Florida set of representatives.

She has been a thorough supporter of LGBT issues, being one of the very few Republican congresspeople to join the LGBT Caucus.

She's right. The UN is a pitiful body that hardly puts its money where its mouth is. It gives fora to known terrorists and dictators as equals to leaders of free nations.

At first I asked myself how some theocratic troglodyte managed to become UN's president, but later you notice all the snubbing UN has done to the human rights violations toward gays throughout the world (including the not giving any initiative to track or recognize any reports).

Pretty much like the EU itself giving a flimsy "resolution condemning Lithuania for banning LGBT mentions in media", the UN is all hot air about human rights while placing men who conduct countries in which women are getting their throats slit by their families on a daily basis.

What? Ignorant? I'd agree with Phil!

She plays right into the right wing talking points of the UN being "under control" of some faction or another. The next step on the "hijacked the UN" spiel is that they'll be landing planes on our highways and require all Americans to have ID cards.

Throw in the bash-on-Kadaffi moment to throw a bit of anti-Arabic dust on the issue and you've definitely got some Republican talking points. Granted, she only skims along the surface without going full-on-Sarah-Palin-style, but still...

I'm tickled she's LGBT friendly. But it still made me cringe a bit at the whole anti-UN/tough on terrorist stance thrown in too.

What Lucrece said, and it's important to rememebr that Ros-Lehtinen is a lead cosponsor of ENDA. She's not a crazy Republican, but one of the few moderates left in the party.

That aside, I don't think it's all that surprising that a Republican stepped up for us in this situation. I wouldn't be surprised, either, if some of the crazier ones did. Pat Buchanan might condemn this guy, then Ann Coulter, then Michelle Malkin....

The only time rightwingers care about LGBT rights is when they can chide Muslim and Latin American leaders. Even the ones who want us to go back in the closet and die of AIDS are usually willing to condemn a Muslim leader for being homophobic, and then throw up his/her hands and say, "Why do gays vote Democrat? We're the only ones who care about killing the Islamofascists!"

And then they support businesses that fire all their LGBT employees, try to keep us from working in schools, and put ads on the air with men in dresses in public restrooms who leave the stall doors open, not noticing any incoherence.

I was not aware of Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen's pro-gay stance. I was mostly commenting on her ANTI-UN stance (which does seem to run higher in the GOP, but there are non-GOP that are anti-UN as well, as there are pro-UN GOP as well). I certainly love an ally, though! My bad for not being up on my reps. You may now spank me!

What is unacceptable is for any leader of any country to be a homophobe and pretend to preside over a world body. The genocide and psychological warfare against LGBTT people need to stop whether it occurs in the U.S.A., or Libya, or Iran, or the Vatican, or China, or Iraq, or wherever. Homophobia, in language that these world leaders understand, is a crime against humanity just like all the other crimes against humanity that the U.N. is known to try to correct and stop.

I wouldn't say there is "genocide and psychological warfare" against GLBT people in China. It's by no means pro-gay, but not exactly anti-gay either, and young people there are increasingly gay-friendly (I'm out to all of my friends there, for example, and never received a word of condemnation or moral judgment, unlike in this country).

I don't know about the Vatican. That may be the only nation in the world with a majority gay population. :)

What Eric said except the China bit. Alaric's right that non-Judeo-Christian-Islam countries are more gay-friendly. The problem is the three, well four including Hinduism, major religious fundamentalist's mentality. It's so funny cause back in the day before Communism took over in China, emperors were having female concubines and then their male lovers to adorn their side. It was written in their history books and poetry and not then all was burned when China became Communist. Same thing with Hinduism. It was all in their Vedic literature and sacred art depicting full-on man-on-man sex. And, isn't the Sufi sect of Islam hold that gay people are sacred beings? In the Bible, didn't Peter go down on Jesus at the last supper? I thought I saw it in the picture somewhere. That leaves Judaism. Well, that one I don't know. Can someone educate me on that one? I guess my point is, they're all hypocrites. The whole of all those religions. Oh, and, don't get me started on what the Dalai Lama says about homosexuality. Truth be told, Buddha never said, "Please write down my teachings of living your live with detachment and make this into a religion." Neither did Jeeeesus. Until the Dalai Lama can advocate for the liberation of LGBT people, his calls for Tibet to be free is hollow and hypocritical. I'm just saying!

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | September 24, 2009 7:46 AM

Speaking from a Buddhist country (though not religious myself) that is tolerant of all religions perhaps I can give you an insight. "The World" at large does not care about LGBT issues. I think the UN proved that by voting for who they did as president. We were not an issue even to be considered and within the cultural/religious background of his country he would likely have been recalled by his government had he supported our issues directly.

What he might do when the cameras are off is another issue. In Sadam's Iraq GLBT persons had less harassment than they have now under the enlightened democracy we have helped create.

Yesterday I had lunch with a transgender woman who studied with the Dali Lama for six years in Dharmsala India. Believe me, in practice, Buddhists do not care whatsoever if anyone is Gay etc. The Dali Lama is trying to gain a measure of autonomy for the Tibetan people from Chinese rule. You are spot on, it is virtually impossible to be Gay in China except in a few coastal cities. The Dali Lama knows this and guess which group can be compromised "for the greater good." It matters little as the Chinese already out number Tibetans in what had been Tibet. They plan to move in another 20 million Chinese in the next ten years to put an iron grip on the place.

Besides, who says it is the job of an exiled religious ruler to advocate for GLBT rights?

I wouldn't say it's "virtually impossible" to be gay in all but a few coastal cities. True, it's hard to be openly gay in most places, but just about every big city has a pretty decent gay life and at least a bar or two.

I'm out to all of my friends over there, and in many cases, I was the first person they'd ever met whom they knew to be gay. I also know a lot of college students who are out to their classmates and even their parents. It's increasingly common to see public displays of affection among gay men, and a growing number of gay teenagers are acknowledging their sexuality and meeting people online.

The thing is, China is way behind us on gay rights in the legal sense, but I think that when things start to change, they'll change a lot more smoothly than they have in this country. This is because of the fact that China doesn't have 2,000 years of Christian baggage that tend to preclude acceptance, and its government is officially atheist anyway.

Much of the trouble actually comes from parents who pressure their children -- especially sons -- to marry because they don't really understand what it means to be gay. A lot of them do, so the "downlow" phenomenon is pretty common there, particularly among men in their 30s and older. It's becoming less and less common among the younger crowd, though.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | September 24, 2009 11:36 PM

With a one child policy among the majority population "Han" ethnic group it is not mysterious why they desire not to see their family die out all together. Hence the pressure on sons to marry.

You were, I take it, an American foreign exchange student? Rules are a bit different for you. China keeps a staff of over 40 thousand persons just to control their internet. I imagine Bilerico is unavailable in China as they lead the world in blocked websites.

Should you send an email to one of your friends with the words "Dali Lama" in it they would certainly catch it and so might your friend.

I was a student for a few months, but did English teaching also and stayed there for three years. I also speak Mandarin (though it's been pretty rusty lately).

I would actually be surprised if Bilerico is blocked, considering it isn't really focused on China-related political topics and isn't pornographic in any sense.

The pressure on sons to marry is partially due to the one-child policy but also due to the Confucian tradition of filial piety. Sons carry the surname, so it's important for them to produce offspring, also so that they can have children to take care of them as they get older. There's an increasing trend toward middle-class families in urban areas having a second child and simply paying the fines necessary because they can afford it; rural families are allowed to have more than one child, and members of most of the minority groups can have multiple children also. As the country's pension system becomes better developed, that pressure might ease somewhat in the near future.

I don't get too worked up over Tibet, to be honest, and I don't have a lot of respect for the Dalai (not Dali) Lama. This is a guy who presided over a regime that was like a Buddhist version of Afghanistan under the Taliban or medieval Europe and was basically a vassal state of China for most of its history (aside from the brief period in the early 20th century when it declared independence, which the overwhelming majority of countries refused to recognize, including the U.S.), yet he's convinced most of the West that Tibet was some kind of democratic utopia, while he's some kind of Gandhi.

I would actually be surprised if Bilerico is blocked, considering it isn't really focused on China-related political topics and isn't pornographic in any sense.

Apparently you've never heard of 'newsporn,' which is my particular fetish!

Newsporn is a particularly debilitating addiction because everyone you know is an enabler. They don't think that your addiction to news is a problem, and they like that you always know what's going on, so they don't have to read it themselves, so they ENCOURAGE you in your filthy habit. I've had six scholarly journal articles open for the past 4 hours, unread while i go through comment threads and give my two cents.

Somebody lock me up.


Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | September 26, 2009 10:11 AM

Well, as I mentioned that train has already left the station with the planned 20 million Han Chinese set to locate in Tibet. Away with this goes 300 years of peaceful co existence.

I regret that the March atrocities of 2008 in Tibet don't "work you up" but they certainly worked up a lot of people over the loss of their ethnic culture. Over 11,000 religious leaders have been exiled from Tibet in the last 12 years, ethnic Tibetans are second class persons in their own cities and often deprived of the basic means of survival.

Ghandi was a politician, not a religious leader.

Bilerico isn't blocked in China. A couple of our commentors are Chinese nationals - including a Chinese friend who I've communicated with online for about 15 years. He was the first person to visit when we launched five years ago today as a blog.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | September 26, 2009 9:58 AM

Bil I am glad to hear that you are not blocked in China, but is it translated freely into Chinese by the servers?

Just like Kaddiffi or Ghadaffi there is no exact spelling of the Dalai or Dali Lama in the English language. Just because something is in English does not mean that it is understood in the majority of the world and certainly not in China.

The Dalai Lama advocates for the liberation of all beings. He does not discriminate.
He speaks only for a small segment of Buddhism anyway.

Treki's statement is not so different from some of the words that have come out of the mouth of Obama. Treki frames his anti-gay response "as a Muslim." Obama's non-support of gay marriage is because "God is in the mix." Both the U.S. and the UN need leadership from people who can put aside personal religious beliefs.

sounds like science fiction beliefs to me.
oh now I see why, the guys a Treki.

Didn't you know? It's unacceptable for someone to promote anti-gay views unless it's a fellow Republican that does it.

Sad that the UN would elect someone who wants to see the world adhere to his religious beliefs. I'll tell you one thing. When the universal religions developed it was the start to a long downhill slide for humanity especially when the Abrahamaic faiths developed.
So glad to be free of that kind of belief system.

Treki's remarks are actually quite similar to the openly proclaimed bigotry of US leaders like John McCain, Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama who all oppose same sex marriage and refuse to repeal Bill Clintons DOMA and DADT. I think that the major difference is that Treki’s a bit more honest. He, and they, should be voted out of office or dismissed.

The election of Treki as President of the General Assembly is to a post annually rotated between blocs of states. His post, compared to the General Secretary, is roughly analogous to the differences in power between the House Speaker and the President of the US.

Keep in mind that the US is a world empire with 865 military bases in 150 countries – 46 of those countries “host” major US bases. Here’s a view of US bases centered on Eurasia: and a global view: . In addition the US maintains huge fleets with lethal firepower including the newly reactivated US Fourth Fleet to intimidate Latin American states.

The actual power of the UN is puny by comparison to the US and it’s toothless by design. It’s ‘peacekeepers’ are only effective when the major powers and the super-power want them to be or are short on soldiers. Whenever the UN or those under its 'protection' cross swords with US imperial ambitions people start to die. Patrice Lumumba was murdered by the CIA with the connivance of the UN's Dag Hammarskjöld. On Wednesday, August 20, 2003 CNN reported that "The U.N. special representative (Sergio Vieira de Mello) in Iraq and at least 16 others died Tuesday in a bomb explosion that ripped through the organization's headquarters in Baghdad." De Mello had been increasingly critical of the US role in Iraq.

I find it strange that so many comments here seem to be defending the Libyan homophobe in the guise of defending the UN, an organization that has not been very gay-friendly, and seem to be suspicious of Representative Ros-Lehtinen, who has been a long-time friend of glbtq people. She is not only a sponsor of ENDA, but has also spoken out against "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and in favor of the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes bill. She may be a Republican, but she is not a crazy Republican. She is far more liberal than her former (closeted gay) colleague Mark Foley, for example, and probably more liberal than her (closeted) Governor, who is likely to be the next US Senator from Florida. I'd much rather have her in office than those two yo-yos.


It is not so much a red banner day as a rainbow flag moment. Gays the world over should not be discriminated against, so says the United Nations in an historic moment, adopting a resolution supporting equal rights for gays. Did you hear that "Faggot" slurring sports stars and, yes, I am talking to you Tracey Morgan for whom this must be a bit of a 'stab in the heart'. But it is not just the law of the land; it is the understanding of the world. So if the United Nations can understand and facilitate such understanding...what is still wrong with this united nation known as the United States? Just how can we stand by the UN resolution without fully understanding the hypocrisy that still permeates this United...or not so united...States. We still have discrimination in the armed forces. (Sure, sure, committee after committee has to still weigh in on the ridding of DADT. Until then where are we?) Gay Weddings? Good for some in some states...intolerable to others in most states. This is simple discrimination. Let us learn from the resolution and have some truth in advertising for once. If we want to call ourselves the United States...can't we just be United? Really!?!
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