Human Rights Activists Hold Vigil at UN, New York, Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza, August 4, 2007

Photos courtesy of GRCC

New York, Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza at 47th Street and 1st Ave, August 4, 2007  - Human rights activists gathered at Dag Hammerskold Plaza NYC and led by piper John Maynard processed through the plaza and lay a wreath at the Raul Wallenberg Memorial outside the UN

"This vigil reflects a spirit of global responsibility among lgbt activists worldwide. We refuse to be silent when our families, our loves and our lives are treated as second-class across the world including Ireland. We stand together from New York to New Delhi from Baghdad to Belfast," said New York organizer and Irish gay activist Brendan Fay.

August 3rd also marked the anniversary of the execution of Irish humanitarian Roger Casement in 1916 (ensured with the release of his personal diaries). Casement, a gay man and human rights advocate, risked his life exposing colonial brutality and human rights abuses in Africa and Latin America.

Gay equality advocates concerned with the denial of basic human rights to lesbian gay, bisexual and transgender (lgbt) people held similar vigils of solidarity in cities around the world throughout the weekend- Caracas, Cologne, Mexico City, New York, San Diego, San Francisco, Stockholm, Vancouver, Warsaw and Washington. The global solidarity vigils are a response to what organizers assert are a growing increase in violence and the denial of human rights worldwide against lgbt people.

"We refuse to be silent in the face of torture, discrimination and executions in Iran, of beatings on the streets of Moscow, of Lithuanian authorities preventing the rainbow flag from being carried on the streets of Vilnius. We refuse to be silent when many LGBT and HIV positive refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants arrive on the shores of the US only to encounter discrimination and closed doors," said Fay.

Organizers called for the endorsement and implementation of the Yogykarta Principles, launched earlier this year at the UN Human Rights Council’s session in Geneva.

"These principles establish basic standards for how governments should treat people whose rights are too often denied and whose dignity is too often reviled," said Scott Long, director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights Program at Human Rights Watch. The Yogyakarta Principles were a response to documented abuse because of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.

Fay and organizers are calling on Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, to ensure the rights of LGBT persons are a "priority during the upcoming session."

"On the eve of Sweden’s National Pride Festival we remembered Dag Hammarskjöld, UN Secretary General, gay man, and human rights pioneer," said organizer Gibert Baker. Baker is also creator of the Rainbow flag, international symbol of the LGBT civil rights movement.

"Today we will honor the lives of Barbara Gittings, Letty Russell, Roger Casement, Simon Nkoli and all lgbt human rights advocates," said Fay.

"We remember our lgbt brothers and sisters who suffered torture, discrimination, imprisonment and death. Dag Hammarskjöld once said 'Life only demands from you the strength you possess. Only one feat is possible - not to have run away...' We honor those words today and trust that the United Nations will too," said Fay.

Among the participants and speakers were:
Kelebohile Nkhereanye, Less AIDS Lesotho
Rev.John Denaro, Pastor, St Mark’s Church in the Bowery
Brendan Fay, UN vigil organizer and Irish Gay activist
Rev. Edgard Danielsen-Morales, Assistant Pastor, MCC NY
Gilbert Baker, UN vigil co-organizer and creator of the Rainbow Flag
George Plagianos, Axios NY (LGBT Eastern Orthodox Christians)
Barbara Mohr, Dignity NY