Ambassador to UN asks those against LGBT expert why they don’t want to prevent another Pulse massacre

The US ambassador to the United Nations has made a passionate plea for LGBT rights to be protected, asking those against an LGBT expert why they don’t want to prevent attacks like the Pulse nightclub.

Samantha Power made the call on Monday, referring back to the Pulse nightclub massacre which left 49 people dead and 53 injured.

The ambassador’s words came as attempts to remove the independent expert on sexual orientation and gender identity were narrowly avoided.

Power said: “The proponents of the amendment argue in their explanatory note that their reason for seeking a delay was that ‘there is no international agreement on the definition of the concept of sexual orientation and gender identity.’ That is patently false.”

“The issue of violence or discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity is well established and well understood,” she adds.

“In reality, this amendment has little to do with questions around the definition of sexual orientation and gender identity,” she continued.

“Instead, this amendment is rooted in a real disagreement over whether people of a certain sexual orientation and gender identity are, in fact, entitled to equal rights. And it is being driven by a group of U.N. member states that believe it is acceptable to treat people differently because of who they are or who they love.”

Power continued that advocating for LGBT rights is “not an issue of the North trying to impose its values on the South; it is an issue of respecting the dignity and human rights of all people, everywhere.”

Noting that “people in the United States can still be fired from a job because of their sexual orientation, and an estimated four in every 10 transgender people in America attempt suicide — approximately 30 times the national average.”

And she eventually got onto the Pulse massacre, saying the 49 people shot dead by Omar Mateen were “targeted simply because they were LGBT.”

“Tell me, why would any member state stand in the way of trying to prevent violence like the attack at that Orlando nightclub?” she asked.

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 took up the role, beginning to investigate abuse that the global LGBT community suffer.

However a number of challenges have been brought by homophobic countries attempting to revoke his position – with a plot to axe the role thwarted by a narrow margin last month.

This week, the block of countries bitterly opposed to the role – including Russia, China and a number of African states – pushed a surprise amendment to the Human Rights Council’s annual report that would have indefinitely halted the work of the LGBT rights expert.

The amendment was voted down by a narrow margin, with 77 countries voting in favour and 84 against, with 16 abstentions.

870 human rights organisations from 157 countries around the world had signed an open letterurging the governments represented in the General Assembly to continue the expert’s work.