The Guest Blog

Guest blog post by Dalibor Vukcevic, Executive Director of the LGBT Action Group.

 

After five rounds of vote at the Security Council, Portuguese former Prime Minister, Mr Antonio Guterres continues to lead the race with a very limited number of negative votes. But despite all the efforts from the UN to make the nomination of the new Secretary General a more democratic process, do we really know who Mr Guterres really is? What were his judgements and positions during many years in public life?

In particular after the enormous advances on the UN’s position of LGBT and Women’s Rights under Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, we ask ourselves if the LGBT community around the World is ready to go back to a dark past of homophobia and transphobia.

In an interview with SIC – Portuguese Television Channel -, on the 16th of September 1995, the then Future Prime Minister of Portugal Antonio Guterres said publicly that “homosexuality is not an aspect that I particularly like ” and referred the question to his wife – explaining she was psychiatrist – for a full response on his views in homosexuality.

The website escrevergay.com re-publishes the story: “Recall that since 1973 homosexuality is no longer considered a disorder by the American Psychiatric Association and that this process culminated in the removal of homosexuality from the list of mental illnesses by the World Health Organization on 17 May 1990. More, the following year Amnesty International has considered discrimination against homosexuals a violation of human rights. It was therefore absolutely unreasonable – and irresponsible – to dodge the question by referring it to a psychiatrist when it had long since ceased to be a medical issue.”

This is now clear that in 1995, Mr Guterres, not only said that “he did not like homosexuality” but also that he considers “it to be a mental disorder”. True that 20 years have passed and that his positions might have changed, although he almost doesn’t speak about this subject and when he does he refers to it from a strickt Institutional point of view. But more than that, can we really trust someone to keep progress for LGBT rights around the World, with such poor judgement and who’s heart obviously has not changed?

People that know him better, like his fellow party member, Portuguese Member of Parliament, Mrs. Isabel Moreira said about him: “I do not forget Guterres’s resistance to basic rights of homosexuals.” She also adds: “I also do not forget years of dignity of women delayed on the account of the agreement Guterres made ??with the political right wing to replace a successful vote in Parliament by a referendum” to cancel an early vote to make abortion legal. She adds that this was “sadly fatal and irreversible for many women”.

In fact, Mr Guterres, also has a very poor record on Women’s Rights. While Portuguese PM, he forced a positive vote in Parliament to legalize abortion to be overturned in a Referendum where he actively campaigned for a NO vote. You might not know, but Mr Guterres was in fact in favor of a Law that sent Portuguese women who performed an abortion to jail!

It took another Government and around 10 years for a second referendum (where Mr Guterres again campaigned for a NO vote) for Portuguese women to be free to decide on their bodies.

So the question is: do we really want a UN Secretary General who said “homosexuality is not an aspect that I particularly like” and who thought that women should be jailed for having an abortion? He might change his stated opinions as politicians so many times do, but does anyone honestly believe he changed his mind?

The five permanent members and the ten non-permanent members must IMMEDIATELY STOP VOTING for Mr Guterres.

And if time comes to that, President Obama must ensure that the United State veto such a person: a Homophobic and Anti-Women’s Rights person cannot be the UN Secretary General.

Sources:

On LGBT rights (in Portuguese):

Será Guterres Hoje Um Bom Candidato À Liderança Da ONU?

http://www.dn.pt/politica/interior/isabel-moreira-ps-contra-candidatura-de-guterres-3978116.html

http://www.jn.pt/domingo/interior/a-longa-marcha-dos-direitos-homossexuais-1576266.html

On Women’s rights (in English):

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/121970.stm

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/portugals-abortion-vote-fiasco-1168615.HTML

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