22 November 2016 -
The United Nations has rejected a move from African nations to halt the work of the independent expert on LGBTI rights.
Thai international law professor, Vitit Muntarbhorn, was appointed the first UN Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. He has been charged with a four year mission to explore where LGBTI people may face discrimination around the world.
A close vote on November 21, 2016, by a United Nations General Assembly Third Committee affirmed that the newly appointed UN expert to address violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity should continue his work is a victory for human rights.
Human Rights Watch has welcomed the decision. Human Rights Watch joined 850 nongovernmental organizations from 156 countries around the world in calling on the General Assembly’s Third Committee, which includes all member countries, to take a principled stand that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights are human rights.
The vote rejected language advanced by African countries that sought to stop the expert from working until the UN could debate the “legal basis” of the mandate, which was created by the Human Rights Council in Geneva.
“The Third Committee’s vote affirms that the right to be protected from violence and discrimination applies equally to LGBT people,” said Boris Dittrich, LGBT rights advocacy director at Human Rights Watch.
“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.”