UN Human Rights Council Creates Its First LGBT Rights Watchdog

Jim Burroway

June 30th, 2016

Human Rights Council

The United Nations Human Rights Council has voted to create its first official independent expert on LGBT affairs in a 23-18 vote, with 6 abstentions. The position, officially known as a Special Rapporteur, represents the first time the United Nations has created a formal position to monitor violence and discrimination against LGBT people around the world. The Advocate explains:

This is a major victory for LGBTQ rights advocates who have long been pressing for the creation of this position. Independent experts, or special rapporteurs (known as “special procedures”), are part of the U.N. system but are technically independent. They have been called the “crown jewels” of the human rights system because of their outsized influence in the international human rights landscape and the expanse of their roles engaging governments, civil society, and more.

…At minimum, the new position will help ensure that LGBTQ rights remain in the international spotlight and are integrated into the portfolios of both public officials and diplomats. The independent expert can also play a crucial role in sharing best practices concerning the protection of the human rights of LGBTQ persons among the U.N.’s 193 member states.

J. Lester Feder lists several amendments to the resolution added by Pakistan on behalf of almost all of the members of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (Albania was the sole IOC member to formally oppose the group’s proposals):

These include a few amendments, including a handful that urge respect for local values, “religious sensitivities,” or domestic politics. Another amendment suggests the resolution undermines universal human rights values to “impose concepts or notions pertaining to social matters, including private individual conduct.”

An additional amendment condemned “coercive measures” to change national policies, a slap at donor nations that have adjusted international aid in response to anti-LGBT laws. The U.S. and some European governments adjusted their aid to Uganda following its adoption of a sweeping anti-LGBT law in 2014, and the World Bank also suspended a major loan in response.


June 30th, 2016

Much good it will do when the likes of Cuba, Saudi Arabia, among other know rampant human rights violators sit on human rights commissions.

If the UN can’t even stop its member states from violently suppressing women (who make up half the world population, compared to ~6-7% of gay people), or publicly beheading people as Saudi Arabia does, how can anyone expect this to be more than mere political theater?

Priya Lynn

July 1st, 2016

I’m not as pessimistic as you Lucrece. While this will make little immediate difference, over time its going to move the ball in the right direction. Making these sort of improvements is a journey, not an on/off switch.

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