Victory as UN renews LGBTIQ+ rights watchdog role


Victor Madrigal-Borloz is the current UN Independent Expert on SOGI

The UN Human Rights Council has renewed the crucial mandate of the Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) for three more years.

In a critical vote on Thursday, the resolution was adopted with 23 in favour, 17 voting against and 7 abstaining. South Africa was one of the countries that co-sponsored the resolution.

Nations that opposed the resolution included China, Indonesia, Malawi, Pakistan, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

The renewal process saw supportive countries successfully voting against 12 of 13 hostile amendments to the resolution. More than 1,200 non-governmental organisations from 149 States and territories in all regions supported a campaign to renew the mandate.

In addition to the renewal of the expert’s role, the resolution also affirmed fundamental LGBTIQ+ human rights.

“Today’s vote was the first time that the Human Rights Council adopted a resolution explicitly condemning legislation that criminalises consensual same-sex conduct and diverse gender identities, and called on States to amend discriminatory legislation and combat violence on the grounds on SOGI,” said ILGA World in a statement.

“The existence of a specific UN human rights mechanism on violence and discrimination on the basis of SOGI is crucial for our communities to be heard at the global level,” added Carlos Idibouo of Fierté Afrique Francophone (FAF) from Cote d’Ivoire. “If the world is truly committed to leaving no one behind, it can’t shy away from addressing the violence and discrimination that we face. Laws criminalising our identities and actions are unjust and should no longer be tolerated”.

Since its creation in 2016, the UN expert has raised awareness worldwide about the impact of the criminalisation of same-sex relations and the lack of affirming legal gender recognition procedures.

The expert has further underscored the damage caused by so-called ‘conversion therapies’, while also highlighting examples of good practices to prevent discrimination and affirming the importance of data collection specific to the experiences of LGBT and gender-diverse people.

“Billions of people continue to live with laws and societal attitudes that put them in danger”, said Manisha Dhakal of Blue Diamond Society in Nepal. “Acknowledging that so much work remains to be done, the Council once again reaffirmed its commitment to combatting discrimination and violence on grounds of SOGI, reminding all States of their obligations towards these communities.”

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