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UN bolsters commitment to sexual orientation and gender identity rights

Graphic: 'Respect' sign at LGBTI pride march

APF members have applauded the decision of the UN Human Rights Council to establish an Independent Expert to promote and protect the LGBTI rights.

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The APF and national human rights from across the Asia Pacific have applauded the historic decision of the UN Human Rights Council to establish an Independent Expert to promote and protect the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people.

On 30 June 2016, the Council voted to appoint an Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The adoption of the resolution (A/HRC/32/L.2/Rev.1), which was co-sponsored by 47 States, also means that human rights issues relating to sexual orientation and gender identity will now be discussed every year by Council members.

The Independent Expert will assess the implementation of existing international human rights instruments with a view to how to overcome violence and discrimination against people on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity.

In addition, the Independent Expert will be tasked with identifying and addressing the root causes of such violence and discrimination.

Applications are open until 4 August 2016 for people wishing to nominate for the position of Independent Expert.

"This is an incredibly welcome and timely initiative by the Human Rights Council, said Pip Dargan, Deputy Director of the APF secretariat.

"As the recent mass shooting in Orlando graphically demonstrates, violence and discrimination against members of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex communities continues to be daily reality across all parts of the world."

In the lead up to the vote, the 'A status' NHRIs from Australia, Greece, Mongolia, Nepal, New Zealand and the Philippines made a statement in support of the resolution at the Human Rights Council.

The statement was delivered by a representative of the Greek Human Rights Commission (see http://webtv.un.org/, under Agenda Item 8).

Graphic: People holding a large rainbow flag

"NHRIs in the Asia Pacific and across the globe are increasingly playing a leadership role to promote and protect the rights of LGBTI people and to counter the prejudice that can lead to discrimination and violence," Ms Dargan said.

To support NHRIs in these efforts, the APF and UNDP last month launched Promoting and Protecting Human Rights in relation to Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Sex Characteristics: A Manual for National Human Rights Institutions.

The manual is a publication of the APF and the United Nations Development Programme Bangkok Regional Hub (UNDP).

It forms part of an ongoing program of cooperation to strengthen the capacity of NHRIs in the region to work with LGBTI communities and better advocate for their human rights, which will include:

  • A regional conference in 2017 to mark the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the Yogyakarta Principles
  • Training courses in the South Asia, South East Asia and Pacific sub-regions
  • Support for NHRIs to mainstream into their strategic plans and work programs human rights issues concerning LGBTI people
  • Assistance for closer consultation between NHRIs and LGBTI communities.

Date: 11 July 2016


Image credits

  1. 'Respect' sign at LGBTI pride march - Australian Human Rights Commission
  2. People holding a large rainbow flag - Carrie Kellenberger, Flickr; http://bit.ly/1MacxL5