International Human Rights Day 2012

Yesterday I had the privilege of attending a seminar in Hanoi for International Human Rights Day and I must say it was interesting. I will not be posting very much about it for now, but in the meantime here are some select quotes and upcoming events that I thought were interesting as they apply to citizens of Vietnam, Canada, and the world. This was a wonderful opportunity to celebrate human rights achievements in Canada, Vietnam and the world from 1948 to the present.

Vibrant civil society groups are amongst the keys to the success of any nation. – UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon as quoted by a speaker from the UNDP

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Vietnam is revising the law on marriage and family to include protections and equal rights for the LGBTQ community and is working with civil society to revise the law. This is an incredible milestone for Vietnam and all of South East Asia, following the revisions Vietnam will be the first country in the region to have such a high level of equality and social protection.

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2013 will mark the first opportunity for public participation in and on the constitution in Vietnam.

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When we work individually we are weak, but as a group we can be strong. – A participant at the seminar.

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The USA constitution from when it was published to when the first African Americans received rights took 100 years, this is a process, it changes, it is a struggle, it reaffirms human values, shows changing administration, changing people. We do not share the world, we need to create the world: we have common rights and common responsibilities. – A representative from the Ho Chi Minh Political Rights Institute.

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‘For many people here I believe my presence is unique, the voice from my community is not often heard. I do stress that I will talk from my own perspective. . .

Have you ever heard of the term ‘heterosexual people?’ This refers to people who like the opposite gender; do you remember when you heard you liked the other gender? Maybe 95% of people are heterosexual, but people never think of it as a scientific term. I never thought that in scientific terms I would be referred to as homosexual because my life is very much like all other people: I was born, I went to elementary school, I went to university, I got a job, I found a partner, I have future plans with my partner. All these things seem very normal. But sometimes things happen in my life that remind me that I am homosexual and that my life and other’s lives in the LGBTQ community are not complete because we are not considered a normal inclusive part of society. . .

People often talk about rights to marriage: they say if you are heterosexual and you love each other, go live together and go get married. But that is a funny thing to say because it does not apply to everyone. Heterosexual people view marriage as a privilege that applies to them but that it can be ignored for others. This does not apply to engagement. Do you see this ring? It is my engagement ring and I have worn it for 5 years. I want to change the ring, but I cannot yet. . .

Do you feel prevented from going outside and enjoying the outside? The transgender population says that when the natural light is gone and the streetlights are on is when their life begins. Nighttime is when they dare to go outside, but they must still go in groups because of stigma and violence. . . Some people are brave enough to try to overcome the stigma and try to go out anyway.’ – A representative of the LGBTQ community.

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What do you think are some of the biggest achievements globally for human rights? Have you read the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights?

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