UN votes to keep first expert on LGBT rights

The United Nations has voted to keep an independent expert on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The vote which took place yesterday (Monday, November 21) saw a number of African countries challenge the validity of the role and attempted to have it removed.

UN votes to keep first expert on LGBT rights

However, an amendment put forward by a number of Latin American countries and supported by the UK was accepted instead.

This means the independent expert who was given a mandate by a Human Rights Council resolution in June shall be kept.

Following the vote, Human Rights minister Baroness Anelay said the vote sent a clear message.

“I welcome the outcome of today’s vote on this crucial amendment, which the UK actively supported and encouraged others to do the same,” she said.

“This sends a clear message that the international community must uphold the universality of human rights.

“The attempt by a number of delegations to overturn the resolution risked setting a dangerous precedent – the UN General Assembly should not be used to unpick decisions that were made legitimately by the Human Rights Council.

“This resolution must be upheld and the UK offers its full support to the Independent Expert, Mr Vitit Muntarbhorn, in his important work.”

Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities, Sarah Champion, said she was relieved the amendment had been accepted.

“The role of the independent expert is important in protecting the rights of some of the most vulnerable people worldwide and I am glad that Vitat Muntarbhorn will be able to carry on his work,” she said.

“At least 76 countries retain laws used to criminalise and harass people on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. This includes fines, torture, hard labour, forced ‘conversion’ therapy, life-long prison sentences, and the death penalty.”

“We must unite behind the independent expert’s work to ensure that these barbaric practices against LGBT people are stamped out worldwide once and for all.”