Israel Ambassador Ron Prosor spoke at the Security Council’s first-ever meeting on LGBT rights: Vulnerable Groups in Conflict: ISIL’s Targeting of LGBT Individuals.
Madam and Mr. Co-Chairs,
Marita [María Perceval], it was really an honor and a privilege to listen to you. Not often in the Security Council do we hear someone speak in a personal and compassionate way that you did.
I would like to thank the Ambassador of the United States, and the Ambassador of Chile for hosting this historic meeting – the very first time that the Security Council has ever met to discuss the rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender individuals.
The central principle of the Jewish tradition is the idea that all people are created, what we call in Hebrew, בצלם אלוהים, in the divine image. This means that all human beings, women and men, gay or straight, and people of every race and religion, all are endowed with full human dignity and infinite value.
In contrast to this universal vision of respect for all, the civilized world faces an enemy with a dark vision – a vision of hatred, of intolerance, and of repression. These fanatical zealots mock the very idea of human rights, and the principles of equality and respect for human life that we cherish. The terrorist group known as ISIS has set new standards for cruelty, barbarity, and savagery in our time. By now, we know, all too well, the fate of those who fall under their control.
For ISIS, and other extremist groups, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals do not fit their restrictive ideas of how to live, and are condemned to die for the "crime" of being who they are. LGBT individuals are thrown off the rooftops of high buildings, into the hands of a mob waiting below – who stand ready to stone them should they survive the fall. This savage cruelty is only possible because ISIS rejects the core humanity of LGBT people, and denies them the basic dignity of being considered full human beings.
Madam and Mr. Co-Chairs,
ISIS targets lesbian and gays, and other vulnerable populations they rule over, but their larger target is us. As Marita said, we who live in open, diverse, and tolerant societies are targets. They target us, who embrace the right to be different, and the freedom to openly and proudly live our lives as we choose. We are all the targets of radical fundamentalism.
The persecution of people based on their sexual orientation is not a war against LGBT, it is an attack on the entire civilized world, and the civilized world must take a stand.
Israel is proud to be a member of the LGBT core group at the UN, and actively promotes the rights of LGBT people everywhere. In a region of the world where homosexuality is often considered punishable by death, Israel is a free and tolerant society, where LGBT people can openly be who they are.
Unfortunately, and it is important to talk about it, even countries that respect the rights of all people are not immune to violence against LGBT individuals, my own country included. Just last month, Israelis marched proudly through the streets of Jerusalem to celebrate and stand with the LGBT community in Israel. Sadly, this festive parade turned into a tragedy, when a fanatic stabbed several of the marchers, and killed a 16-year old girl, Shira Banki.
Shira, who was a gifted musician and a dedicated friend, was killed because she stood in solidarity with the LGBT community, and stood up for the dignity of all. As Shira’s family said, and I quote, "Our charming, happy, lively and beloved 16-year-old Shira was murdered just because she came to support her friends and any person’s right to live their life their own way." Faced with immense tragedy, and unimaginable pain, they said, and I quote, "We will try to hate less and love more; that’s what we can offer."
Hatred and extremism can be found in all groups and all peoples. The measure of a society is how it responds to fanaticism and prejudice in its midst. Shira’s murderer was quickly arrested, and his heinous act was condemned by all. Israelis gathered in public squares to mourn Shira’s death, and to celebrate her life. She came from a school that both my son and daughter studied in. They came out in the thousands to declare that the fanatic who tried to silence Shira’s voice had failed. By magnifying Shira’s message of equality and respect for all, they demonstrated that Shira’s voice had not been silenced. Israelis took to the streets to say "Her cause is our cause."
Madam and Mr. Co-Chairs,
The world must make a clear statement. We must declare that the cause of LGBT individuals suffering at the hands of extremists is our cause – all of our cause. We must affirm our solidarity with those facing persecution, and form a united front, here at the United Nations, to protect them. And we must commit ourselves to working towards a better future- a future of freedom, of equality, and of dignity for all people.