Posts Tagged As: United Nations

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.

UN Security Council Condemns Attack “Targeting Persons as a Result Of Their Sexual Orientation”

Jim Burroway

June 13th, 2016

This is historic:

The U.N. Security Council on Monday condemned the mass shooting at a Florida gay nightclub as the United States urged dozens of United Nations member states to drop their opposition to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality.

The 15-member council denounced the attack “targeting persons as a result of their sexual orientation” in a U.S.-drafted statement, overcoming standard resistance at the U.N. to such language by African and Muslim states, as well as Russia.

…(Deputy U.S. Ambassador David Pressma) noted that there is just one General Assembly resolution referencing “sexual orientation” and “gender identity,” a resolution that urges states to protect the right to life of all persons and investigate killings.

…Pressman noted that there is just one General Assembly resolution referencing “sexual orientation” and “gender identity,” a resolution that urges states to protect the right to life of all persons and investigate killings. He said every year “there is a pitched fight over whether it is appropriate to include sexual orientation in that protection.”

African, Asian, Caribbean LGBT Groups Banned From U.N. AIDS Conference

Jim Burroway

May 18th, 2016

More than fifty Muslim countries, led by Egypt, banded together to ban several LGBT groups from attending a high level U.N.’s 2016 High-Level Meeting on Ending AIDS set for June 8 through 10. NGOs from across Africa, as well as Guyana, Jamaica, Peru, Estonia and Ukraine were among eleven groups that were banned:

On behalf of 51 members of the 57-nation Organisation for Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Egypt requested that the UN bar 11 groups from attending the conference, news agencies reported. Egypt reportedly provided no reason for excluding the groups in its letter.

The NGOs include Eurasian Coalition on Male Health, an Estonia-based group that fights for LGBTI equality in Russia and other former Soviet republics, and Global Action for Trans Equality, which has its headquarters in the United States. Aside from the Estonian and US gay activist groups, Egypt reportedly objected to the participation of Ishtar Men Who Have Sex With Men group from Kenya and the Asia Pacific Transgender Network from Thailand.

Ambassadors from the E.U., U.S., and Canada were quick to denounce the ban:

The United States has already protested the decision, with the US ambassador Samantha Power noting that the disallowed groups “appear to have been chosen for their involvement in LGBTI, transgender or youth advocacy.” …

“We are deeply concerned that at every negotiation on a new General Assembly gathering, the matter of NGO (non-governmental organization) participation is questioned and scrutinized,” Ms Power wrote.

“The movement to block the participation of NGOs on spurious or hidden grounds is becoming epidemic and severely damages the credibility of the U.N.”

“Given that transgender people are 49 times more likely to be living with HIV than the general population, their exclusion from the high-level meeting will only impede global progress in combating the HIV/Aids pandemic,” she added.

The 2016 High-Level Meeting was called to share lessons learned in responding to HIV with the stated goal of of ending AIDS by 2030:

The lessons learned in responding to HIV will play an instrumental role in the success in achieving many of the Sustainable Development Goals, notably Sustainable Development Goal 3, good health and well-being, and the goals on gender equality and women’s empowerment, reduced inequalities, global partnerships and just, peaceful and inclusive societies.

Obama Calls On UN To Protect Gay Rights

Jim Burroway

September 21st, 2011

President Barack Obama spoke at the United Nations General Assembly today, where he called on member states to protect the human rights of gays and lesbians:

And to make sure our societies reach their potential, we must allow our citizens to reach theirs. No country can afford the corruption that plagues the world like a cancer. Together, we must harness the power of open societies and open economies. That’s why we’ve partnered with countries from across the globe to launch a new partnership on open government that helps ensure accountability and helps to empower citizens. No country should deny people their rights to freedom of speech and freedom of religion, but also no country should deny people their rights because of who they love, which is why we must stand up for the rights of gays and lesbians everywhere.

According to the White House, this is the first time that a sitting U.S. President affirmed the rights of gays and lesbians before the U.N. General Assembly.

UN Rights Body Passes Historic Resolution on Anti-Gay Violence and Discrimination

Jim Burroway

June 20th, 2011

Following intense negotiations, the United Nations Human Rights Council on Friday voted 23-19 in favor of a declaration expressing “grave concern at acts of violence and discrimination, in all regions of the world, committed against individuals because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.” The resolution LAO calls for a panel discussion next spring with “constructive, informed and transparent dialogue on the issue of discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against” gays, lesbians and transgender people.

This resolution marks the first time a UN body has addressed human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and follows a joint statement on these issues delivered at the March session of the council. The resolution was proposed by South Africa, and was joined by 39 additional co-sponsors from around the world. Given that homophobia represents official governmental policy in much of Africa, it was considered crucial that South Africa lead the fight for the resolution. South Africa is the only nation on the continent to provide for marriage equality.

Other co-sponsors, including many states which are not members of the Human Rights Council, included Albania, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Honduras, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Timor-Leste, United Kingdom, United States, and Uruguay.

The United States, which is not a member of the Human Rights Council, reacted to the vote with this statement after the declaration passed:

“This marks a significant milestone in the long struggle for equality, and the beginning of a universal recognition that LGBT persons are endowed with the same inalienable rights — and entitled to the same protections — as all human beings.”

The full text of the resolution reads as follows:

Human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity

The Human Rights Council

Recalling the universality, interdependence, indivisibility and interrelatedness of human rights as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and consequently elaborated in other human rights instruments, such as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and other relevant core human rights instruments,

Recallling also that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirms that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights and that everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in that Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, or other status;

Recalling further General Assembly resolution 60/251 of 15 March 2006, in which the Assembly stated that the Human Rights Council should be responsible for promoting universal respect for the protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, without distinction of any kind and in fair and equal manner,

Expressing grave concern at acts of violence and discrimination, in all regions of the world, committed against individuals because of their sexual orientation and gender identity,

1. Requests the High Commissioner to commission a study to be finalized by December 2011, to document discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity, in all regions of the world, and how international human rights law can be used to end violence and related human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity;

2. Decides to convene a panel discussion during the 19th session of the Human Rights Council, informed by the facts contained in the study commissioned by the High Commissioner and to have constructive, informed and transparent dialogue on the issue of discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity;

3. Decides also that the panel will also discuss the appropriate follow-up to the recommendations of the study commissioned by the High Commissioner;

4. Decides to remain seized of this priority issue.

States supporting the resolution were Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Ecuador, France, Guatemala, Hungary, Japan, Mauritius, Mexico, Norway, Poland, Republic of Korea, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, Ukraine, Thailand, UK, USA, Uruguay.

States voting against the resolution were Angola, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Cameroon, Djibouti, Gabon, Ghana, Jordan, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar, Moldova, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Uganda. Three states abstained (Burkina Faso, China, Zambia), and Kyrgyzstan’s representative was absent. Libya, who also holds a seat in human rights body without a hint of irony, was also absent, having been suspended over the ongoing uprising.

United Nations Restores Sexual Orientation To Resolution Condeming Extrajudicial, Summary and Arbitrary Executions

Jim Burroway

December 22nd, 2010

The United Nations General Assembly yesterday succeeded in restoring “sexual orientation” to a resolution condemning extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions. The category of sexual orientation had been removed last month as a result of an Arab and African proposal. Yesterday’s 93-55 vote (with 27 abstentions) approved an American proposal to reinsert “sexual orientation” back into the resolution. The resolution was then passed with 122 yes votes, none against and 59 abstentions.

The UN passes a resolution every two years condemning extrajudicial killings. The 2008 version included a reference to sexual orientation. Zimbabwe’s U.N. Ambassador Chitsaka Chipaziwa harshly condemned its re-insertion into the 2010 resolution:

We will not have it foisted on us,” he said. “We cannot accept this, especially if it entails accepting such practices as bestiality, pedophilia and those other practices many societies would find abhorrent in their value systems.

“In our view, what adult people do in their private capacity by mutual consent does not need agreement or rejection by governments, save where such practices are legally proscribed,” Chitsaka said.

Paul Canning, who has an extensiverundown of the vote, reports that one-third of African countries either supported the American proposal to reintroduce “sexual orientation” into the resolution or abstained from voting, representing a change from their votes last month removing the clause. He also notes that almost all of the Caribbean, including Jamaica, also changed their votes as well. Canning noted the Rwandan ambassador’s “yes” vote:

In the debate at the UN the most moving contribution was from the Rwandan delegate who said that a group does not need to be “legally defined” to be targeted for massacres and referenced his countries experience. “We can’t continue to hide our heads in the sand” he said.”These people have a right to life.”

UN Official Condemns Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill

Jim Burroway

January 15th, 2010

If any part of Uganda’s draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill becomes law, that nation will be well on its way to becoming a pariah state for its gross violations of human rights. The UN High Commissioner on Human Rights has weighed in:

UN rights chief Navi Pillay on Friday urged the Ugandan government to scrap an anti-homosexuality bill which is to be put before parliament, saying that it was “blatantly discriminatory.”

“The bill clearly breaches international human rights standards, as it is blatantly discriminatory,” said Pillay in a statement.

…”It is extraordinary to find legislation like this being proposed more than 60 years after the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights … made it clear this type of discrimination is unacceptable,” she added.

Calling on Uganda to “shelve (the) draconian draft bill,” Pillay warned that the bill could seriously hurt the country’s reputation.

Click here to see BTB\’s complete coverage of the past year\’s anti-gay developments in Uganda.

UN Official: Uganda May Lose AIDS Research Center If “Kill Gays” Bill Passes

Jim Burroway

December 14th, 2009

From Pink News:

Uganda may lose the chance to host a major AIDS research institution if its parliament passes a bill against homosexuality, a United Nations official has said. Catherine Hankins, the chief scientific advisor for UNAIDS, suggested that her organisation and the World Health Organisation (WHO) could take a decision on the location of the institution depending on whether the bill passes.

The African AIDS Vaccine Programme (AAVP) is slated to be relocated from Geneva, Switzerland, to Entebbe. But if the bill passes, UNAIDS and WHO will revisit that decision.

Click here to see BTB\’s complete coverage of the past year’s anti-gay developments in Uganda.


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