Committee: social unrest, threatening the lives and well-being

Committee: Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee (SOCHUM)Topic: Tackling the issue of human traffickingCountry: FranceDelegate: Monica PontikidouDiscrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity is undoubtedly one of the most crucial problems of our age and a gross violation of basic human rights. Even though today’s society has progressed significantly in many fields, racism and discrimination remainunsolved, which is unacceptable both on the basis of international laws and basic humanism and solidarity. Such problems result in intense violence and social unrest, threatening the lives and well-being of numerous individuals and undermining the coherence of society. As stated in Canada’s Constitution “Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and benefit of the law without discrimination”, making it clear that the country is truly paving the way towards eliminating this critical phenomenon.Canada became the first country outside of Europe to legalize same-sex marriage in 2005 with the groundbreaking Civil Marriage Act. It is one of the few countries worldwide that has legalized same-sex adoption and change of legal gender, having decriminalized same-sex sexual activity as early as 1969. Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression in employment, housing, public and private accommodations is banned nationwide, through a number of revolutionary laws. Furthermore, the Canadian Human Rights Act guarantees the right to equality, equal opportunity, fair treatment and an environment free of discrimination, and members of the LGBT community are protected by the Federal Court of Canada and the Ontario Human Rights Commission. Other measures, including revised police training and sensitization, improved hate-crime data collection, protocols for ensuring the dignity and safety of transgender prisoners and anti-discrimination efforts in schools, were applauded by the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights. Despite the praise-worthy efforts of countries like Canada, sexual orientation and gender identity remain severe and controversial issues, which manifest in direct or indirect discrimination, caused both by the lack of legal framework  and awareness on LGBT rights. The tendency to create stereotypes and the nurtured, preconceived ideas about anything that deviates from the norm, cultivate an environment of apprehension and distrust. The shining examples of countries like Canada that have managed to effectively reduce violence have a common basis of cohesive legal mechanisms, unequivocal laws protecting the rights of all citizens and a decisive national policy towards LGBT rights. All this is paired with efficient awareness-raising efforts, in a society based on humanism and equality. Unfortunately, such solutions can’t prove effective globally unless all countries radically eliminate the long-standing stereotypes and beliefs that trigger discriminatory behaviors, through an unbiased, multifaceted education of the public and direct legal reform. The global community still has a long way to go on this field and it is evident that immediate action must be taken to alleviate this complex phenomenon, not only through the ratification of relevant protocols, but also by adopting a humanitarian approach towards protecting the victims and prosecuting the perpetrators efficiently and systematically. Canada firmly believes that all nations need to update and review their constitutional and legal systems, so as to directly address the underlying causes of this issue. Therefore, we call upon member states to cater for the needs of victims of sexual orientation discrimination, in particular by legalizing same-sex marriage and child adoption, legally recognizing the rights of LGBT people, ensuring legal recognition of the gender identity of transgender people without abusive requirements and reforming non-discriminatory guidelines for the public and private sector. Canada strongly suggests that member states incorporate LGBT topics in mainstream education and that mass media actively support the LGBT community and condemn discrimination and violence, as a means to target prejudice and exclusion towards its members. Furthermore, my delegation urges all countries to make direct awareness-raising efforts, through public campaigns, cooperation with NGOs and other measures, while also providing members of the LGBT community with equal opportunities for education, work, legal representation and advancement. Most importantly, we should all realize that equal rights are not a privilege to be enjoyed by a selected few, but a necessary prerequisite for personal and social prosperity. In this respect, Canada is determined to offer its support to other nations, in order to put an immediate end to this most serious act of dehumanization and pressing issue of our time.

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