UN Votes To Keep LGBTIQ Rights Expert Despite Opposition
By Mikey Carr
Great news today as it was announced that the UN has voted to keep LGBTIQ rights expert Vitit Muntarbhorn of Thailand in a fabulous victory for LGTBIQ communities the world over. With 84-77 votes to keep the role with 12 abstentions, the decision was made in spite of major opposition from countries including Russia, China as well as nations from the Middle East and Africa. Latin American, North American, and many in Europe however all pushed for the appointment of the expert.
With at least 76 countries around the world enforcing laws that criminalize LGBTIQ people, to have an expert specialising in LGBTIQ rights is surely a no brainer. However Muntarbhorn is the first official tasked by the UN with investigating violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Appointed on 30 September, he soon had his position called into dispute by the aforementioned cabal of anti-LGBTIQ nations.
Botswana’s UN Ambasador Charles Ntwaagae expressed the alarm of the African nations’ that the Human Rights Council is involving themselves in national matters and focusing on people ‘on the grounds of their sexual interests and behaviors’ while ignoring discrimination on other grounds such as race, sex or religion.
US deputy ambassador Sarah Mendelson hit back though, pointing out that the Human Rights Council had approved numerous resolutions on violence and discrimination against other minorities.
With 850 NGOs from 156 countries around the world had calling on the UN General Assembly to take a stand that LGBTIQ rights are human rights, ‘The Third Committee’s vote affirms that the right to be protected from violence and discrimination applies equally to LGBT people,’ said LGBT rights advocacy director at Human Rights Watch Boris Dittrich GSN reports.
‘It also respects the integrity of the Human Rights Council, as the UN’s top human rights body, to ensure that mechanisms are in place to protect rights not just in theory, but in practice,’ he added.
A great step in the right direction, the fact there was opposition to this shows how much work the council (and all of us) still have a lot left to do, while the vote proves that victory is within our grasp.