(CNSNews.com) - The United Nations Security Council on Monday held its first-ever meeting on the persecution of homosexuals by Islamic State terrorists -- the same terrorists who are slaughtering Christians and forcing women and young girls into sexual slavery.
But Monday's focus was all on LGBT "rights and issues."
"It was a very moving meeting," U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power said after the closed-door session, sponsored by the U.S. and Chile, ended. "Again, we’re getting this issue into the DNA of the United Nations, but until today the Security Council had never broached this topic, and so today also represents a small but historic step."
The U.N. Security Council heard from two homosexual Arab men, including a Syrian named Subhi Nahas who has been resettled in the United States. The other gay man, who fled Iraq, phoned in from the Middle East. The meeting was closed to the press for his protection, Power said.
"Everybody has read about what ISIL and what others are doing to LGBT people around the world, but it’s another thing entirely to hear personal testimonies. While others spoke, including members of the Security Council and other member States, photos also were projected that depicted what ISIL is doing to LGBT persons or those suspected of being LGBT."
Power described the photos as "graphic" and "gut-wrenching."
"The last thing I would say is just that while some of the emphasis was on ISIL, particularly given the testimony of the witnesses, there was widespread recognition among those who spoke that this is not an issue by any means confined to ISIL," Power continued.
"Yes, it is true that ISIL has made it common practice, it seems, to target LGBT persons, but that is true also around the world very far from where ISIL dominates. You have countries that have criminalized LGBT status; you have societies, of course, that are every bit as unwelcoming as they were 20, 30 years ago, communities in that regard.
"But today’s meeting is a sign that this issue is getting injected into the mainstream at the United Nations."
Power mentioned other persecuted groups in passing, noting that ISIL "is going to come up again in many, many Security Council meetings, rest assured. When it comes up, it’s also imperative that in addition to talking about the threat that ISIL poses to Christians, to Yezidis, to Shia, to any Sunni or anybody who doesn’t share their warped ideology -- to cultural artifacts of the kind that have been destroyed monstrously here in the last couple days -- alongside that, it is essential that the fate of LGBT persons also be raised and discussed, and we will work with our Council partners and colleagues to ensure that it isn’t just the United States raising it.
"You can see Chile’s very strong leadership role. And again, the turnout, I think, was actually quite strong and the statements were very strong from those who came."
Two members of the 15-member U.N. Security Council didn't show up -- Chad and Angola.
Subhi Nahas said his message to the ambassadors was that "LGBT people have their own voice, and LGBT people want to be represented in the UN and in the government and want to be integrated into the systems and be part of the development of the country and its policies.
Subhi said he hoped to "prove that LGBT is not just a terminology invented by the West, but there is an LGBT community in the Middle East and in Africa, and they stand together and they want their rights, too."
Power noted that it was only five years ago, at the Obama administration's insistence, that the United Nations Human Rights Council passed a resolution acknowledging LGBT rights as human rights. Since 2011, the HRC has passed a second resolution on LGBT rights; and in June, it release a report on the plight of LGBT perople around the world.
"We just have to continue to create dedicated spaces and venues for conversations like the one we just had, raising awareness, showing LGBT people, or those being persecuted, that the UN cares, that the Security Council cares, that the General Assembly cares, that the Human Rights Council cares, that the Member States of the United Nations care – that’s extremely important," Power said.
"But also each of us, as governments, has a responsibility to inject the treatment of LGBT persons into our bilateral relationships as well."
She said she's proud of President obama for directing all U.S. government agencies to "inject LGBT rights into our foreign policy," when it comes to asylum decisiions, funding for human rights defenders, and "rapid response" for those in need.
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