Historic UN vote: Human Rights Council votes for new LGBT Expert

In a historic vote, the United Nations Human Rights Council has agreed to appoint an Independent Expert dedicated to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people from violence and discrimination worldwide. 

The Human Rights Law Centre’s Lee Carnie said, “For the first time, a UN Independent Expert’s sole focus will be investigating and reporting on violence and discrimination facing LGBT people around the world.”

“This historic resolution will bring international attention to human rights violations fuelled by prejudice towards people’s sexual orientation and gender identity. It is an important step towards counteracting the kind of violence that took place at the Pulse Night Club in Orlando recently,” added Ms Carnie.

An LGBT rights specialist with a UN mandate will 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 will also receive complaints and conduct country visits and report back to the Council.

The resolution was adopted by a vote of 23 in favour, 18 against and 6 abstentions. The positive vote came after a joint campaign of a record 628 nongovernmental organisations from 151 countries calling on the Council to adopt the resolution. The Human Rights Law Centre joined in the statement delivered to the Council in Geneva.

Although a number of hostile amendments seeking to introduce notions of cultural relativism were adopted into the text, the core of the original resolution proposed jointly by the Governments of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico and Uruguay stood firm.

The call for an independent expert was 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.

Anna Brown, Director of Advocacy, Human Rights Law Centre, said “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.”

For further comments or queries please contact:

Michelle Bennett, Director of Communications, Human Rights Law Centre, 0419 100 519