UK government vows ‘starburst of diplomatic effort’ to defend UN’s LGBT rights expert

The UK government has vowed to fight “in every capital of the world” to defend the UN’s LGBT rights expert amid a plot to oust him.

The United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council voted in June to appoint an independent LGBT expert for the first time to monitor “violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity” around the world.

Thai professor Vitit Muntarbhorn was handed the role last month, beginning to investigate abuse that the global LGBT community suffer.

However, over the weekend it emerged that the Group of African States plan to bring forward a resolution at the General Assembly that would revoke Mr Muntarbhorn’s position, in an attempt to prevent LGBT rights from being considered as human rights within the UN.

Labour MP Sarah Champion urged the UK government to step up efforts on the issue, and Speaker John Bercow granted an urgent question in the House of Commons today.

Responding to concern, Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Sir Alan Duncan vowed to stand up for equality.

The gay official said: “Since Friday night, when we discovered that this was happening, the UK’s entire diplomatic network has been making that point in every capital across the globe.

“Only this morning, for instance, my noble Friend Baroness Anelay, who is visiting Sri Lanka, secured the agreement of her hosts in Colombo to join us by supporting an amendment tabled by a group of Latin American countries, which were the main proponents of the appointment in the first place.

“The Government, and all in the House, believe that the chance to live with dignity, free from violence or discrimination, should never be undermined by a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. All people are born with equal rights, and should enjoy the protection of the United Nations. Acts of violence against LGBT people take place in all regions of the world, including our own.

“We condemn such violence and discrimination, and we strongly support the new independent expert in his work. We will resist any and all attempts to block his appointment and his mandate.”

He added: “We are looking at a complete starburst of diplomatic effort to try to corral votes for this purpose in the General Assembly.

“We are starting from an alliance of considerable diplomatic effort. We are proud to be a member of the new equal rights coalition, which is made up of more than 30 states, and we also contribute funds to support LGBT rights projects globally.

“We make our view on LGBT issues very clear in all our diplomatic representations overseas.

“For example, advancing the interests and rights of LGBT people is very much a part of many of our Department for International Development programmes. ”