Nations pledge to support gay rights at UN meeting

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Several countries have responded positively to recommendations on gay rights at the 8th session of the UN Human Rights Council.

During the session Ireland and Slovenia expressed concern at the maintenance of the death penalty for homosexuality in Iran and criticised Nigeria for failing to follow up on recommendations to repeal the death penalty for consensual sexual conduct.

“In reply, Nigeria stated that no executions have taken place, and asserted that the maximum penalty for consensual same-sex sexual conduct between adults is 14 years’ imprisonment,” according to a recent report on the June session from LGBT rights group ARC International.

Ecuador, the Czech Republic and Japan were among nations that accepted recommendations to further address discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity,

However, the Ukraine said they would not apply the Yogyakarta Principles as a guide to assist in policy development.

The principles were adopted by a meeting of experts in international law in Yogyakarta, Indonesia in 2006.

They set out a legal standard for how governments and other agencies should end violence, abuse and discrimination against sexual minorities.

Switzerland rejected a proposals that federal legislation be introduced to prohibit discrimination, including on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, that the Yogyakarta Principles be applied to enhance the Government’s commitment to non-discrimination, and that the rights accorded to same-sex couples be equivalent to those accorded to opposite-sex couples.

Benin rejected calls to decriminalise homosexuality.

Zambia said it would not to decriminalise same-sex activity between consenting adults or develop HIV/AIDS programmes to respond to the needs of sexually-active gay men.

Egypt said killings based on sexual orientation do not warrant the same degree of attention or concern as killings based on race.

Pakistan rejected calls to decriminalise adultery and non-marital consensual sex, claiming the recommendations fall outside “universally recognised human rights.”

However, there were positive commitments from some EU nations.

Romania agreed to develop awareness-raising programmes, including for law enforcement personnel, to promote respect for persons of minority sexual orientations or gender identities, to punish ill-treatment of sexual minorities in detention, to take additional measures to combat discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, and to protect the rights of LGBT activists to participate in peaceful public gatherings, such as the GayFest.

Poland accepted recommendations to adopt an anti-discrimination law, including on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, to withdraw any restrictions on addressing issues of homosexuality within educational establishments, and to ensure respect for the freedom of expression and association of those campaigning for equality on grounds of sexual orientation.

The UK agreed to follow the Council of the European Union Asylum Qualification Directive with regard to sexual orientation as grounds for seeking asylum.

Click here to read a report on the 8th Session of the UN Human Rights Council.