By Robert Aseda, (Varaq)
A few weeks ago, Donald Trump, the US president, in his usual style, made a very important public policy declaration on social media: the banning of transgender soldiers from American Army arguing that their inclusion somehow makes the US Army unfocused and disrupted from their main agenda. He further argued that they are expensive to maintain due to the astronomical medical costs involved; Claims that are not only factually untrue and not based on any scintilla of evidence, but are misguided, inflammatory and likely to cause severe physical, emotional and psychological anguish not just to the US Transgender soldiers but to the lesbian, gay, transgender and queer community throughout the globe.
America may be so far away, but this declaration will have ramifications the world over. Like the Biblical city on the hill, which opens its light for all to to see, America definitely plays a huge role in defining global policy on a number of issues.
Of course it defeats logic for one of the most powerful people on earth to insinuate that somehow who you are or who you love could make you incompetent or render your services and sacrifices unwanted and unappreciated.
Worrying still scrolling through the comments on social media, a huge percentage still felt this action necessary and timely, despite the exclusionist and segregationist agenda that it seeks to spread.
Whereas very unfortunate and grossly misinformed, this ill advised declaration has opened a very important discussion not just on the specific rights of trans soldiers but on the not so discussed and often misunderstood issues of sexual orientation and gender identity.
Gender and sexual minorities including the LGBT community have continued to face untold misery, discrimination and violence due to how they identify or who they love. In his first report to the Human Rights Council, the United Nations Independent Expert on Protection against Violence and Discrimination based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, narrated how throughout the world, this community still face major human rights violations including denial 0f access to crucial services including healthcare, justice, education, security among others.
“Even though human rights are inherent to everyone and propel protection for all persons without exception, regrettably persons with an actual or perceived sexual orientation and/or gender identity diverging from particular societal norms are at times targeted for violence and discrimination including killings, rape, mutilation, arbitrary detention, mental health assault and bullying from a young age, ” a section of the report reads.
It’s very important to remind ourselves, that there’s more to a person than who they love or how they identify themselves. But more fundamentally, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the founding human rights law, reminds us that everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. The deprivation of a right hinders fulfillment and enjoyment of other human rights.
We may not agree on a number of issues, but we definitely agree that exclusion, discrimination and violence has no place in the 21st century. Not just because it is against international and national instruments, but also because it has no benefit whatsoever, other than entrenching further inequalities.
In many countries throughout the world including Kenya, despite constitutional provisions to non discrimination, the penal code still propagates discrimination and violation of human rights to dignity, association, the right to recognition everywhere as a person among several others. During the last Universal Periodic Review Cycle, Kenya committed to developing a comprehensive anti-discriminatory law. It’s time to walk the talk.
If we are to realize the Kenya and the world we want; if we are to realize Vision 2030 and the global Sustainable Development Goals; then we can’t afford to leave anyone behind, for any reason, the least being sexual orientation and gender identity.
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