Historic support for UN vote for LGBT Independent Expert

The United Nations Human Rights Council is on the cusp of establishing an Independent Expert to tackle violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The Human Rights Law Centre joined in a statement delivered to the Council in Geneva overnight supported by 627 civil society organisations representing 151 countries.

The Human Rights Law Centre’s Director of Advocacy and Strategic Litigation, Anna Brown, said that mass shootings targeting the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community from Mexico to Orlando highlight the need for the UN to take action.

“All around the world, sexual minorities are subjected to discrimination, abuse, even corrective rape or murder, simply because of who they are or who they love. This week, the UN Human Rights Council has the historic opportunity to protect LGBT people from violence and discrimination worldwide when it votes in Geneva tomorrow. Systemic issues need systemic responses,” added Ms Brown.

The joint statement urges countries to vote in favour of a resolution proposed by six Latin American nations – Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Uruguay – to create a position of an independent United Nations expert dedicated to monitoring human rights violations on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI). 

The statement overnight brought attention to how people in many countries and regions experience extreme human rights violations because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity.

The call for an independent expert is co-sponsored by 43 countries including Australia, consistent with our support of past resolutions that have called for action to end violence against LGBT people (September 2014 and June 2011).

“Australia has taken a strong stand on the rights of LGBT people on the international stage for a number of years, with bipartisan support, and we have welcomed the Government’s efforts to increase support for this resolution in the lead up to the vote this week,” said Ms Brown.

If successful, a LGBT rights specialist with a UN mandate would have the power to document hate crime and human rights violations, build awareness of the impact of discrimination, recommend best practice laws and policies, and coordinate responses to violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. They would also receive complaints and conduct country visits and report back to the Council.

For further comments or queries please contact:

Anna Brown, Director of Advocacy, Human Rights Law Centre, 0422 235 522