Some good news – the United Nations has voted to keep the first independent expert on gender identity and sexual orientation.
This success was despite the efforts from numerous African countries, who challenged the validity of the role and attempted to have it removed. Their move was rather unusual, as African states put forward a draft resolution in an attempt to get the independent investigator suspended.
However, their efforts were halted by a successfully proposed amendment by Western countries which gutted the amendment from the African states. This means that the independent expert who was given a mandate by the Human Rights Council shall be kept.
Human Rights minister Baroness Anelay said on the vote: “I welcome the outcome of today’s vote on this crucial amendment, which the UK actively supported and encouraged others to do the same.”
“This sends a clear message that the international community must uphold the universality of human rights. The attempt by a number of delegations to overturn the resolution risked setting a dangerous precedent – the UN General Assembly should not be used to unpick decisions that were made legitimately by the Human Rights Council. This resolution must be upheld and the UK offers its full support to the Independent Expert, Mr Vitit Muntarbhorn, in his important work.”
Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities, Sarah Champion, also expressed relief that the amendment had been accepted: “The role of the independent expert is important in protecting the rights of some of the most vulnerable people worldwide and I am glad that Vitat Muntarbhorn will be able to carry on his work.”
“At least 76 countries retain laws used to criminalise and harass people on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. This includes fines, torture, hard labour, forced ‘conversion’ therapy, life-long prison sentences, and the death penalty. We must unite behind the independent expert’s work to ensure that these barbaric practices against LGBT people are stamped out worldwide once and for all.”