US quitting UN Human Rights Council ‘will undermine work on global LGBT rights’

The Trump administration’s decision to quit the United Nations Human Rights Council threatens to undermine work on global LGBT rights, activists say.

The Trump-Pence White House yesterday (June 19) announced that it would quit the UN human rights body over “ideological differences” with its work.

The Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe.

Among other subject areas, it has led the UN’s work on LGBT rights, producing reports on human rights violations based against vulnerable LGBT people.

US President Donald Trump(Mandel NGAN /AFP/Getty)

The Human Rights Council appointed an Independent Expert on sexual orientation and gender identity in 2016 with a global mandate for work on LGBT rights, and the role is currently held by Victor Madrigal-Borloz.

Progressive countries have already had to band together to see off attempts to shut down the work entirely.

LGBT activists warn that after the clout of the US, the work of the body could be undermined.

OutRight Action International said in a statement to PinkNews: “While the US may see reasons for criticism of the Human Rights Council and advocate for reform, the institution has been the central international mechanism of accountability and justice for marginalized groups and people the world over.

“For many LGBTIQ people, the Human Rights Council and the United Nations as a whole are ports of last call when their own governments fail them.

“Without a history of progress on LGBTIQ human rights at the Human Rights Council we would have no progress to speak of within the UN system today. Withdrawing from the Council sends a message to other countries that its acceptable to walk away from the system when it doesn’t suit you to be there. Imagine, what would happen if all countries walked away from the UN because of disagreements?

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“Investing in multilateralism is not just integral to preserving and progressing human rights, it is essential to promoting peace and security.

“OutRight believes in the international system and the integrity of the Human Rights Council. We look forward to continue working with everyone who share these values.”

US President Donald Trump speaks while meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron on the sidelines of the G7 Summit in Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada, June 8, 2018. (Photo by Ludovic MARIN / AFP) (Photo credit should read LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP/Getty Images)

US President Donald Trump (LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP/Getty)

Ty Cobb of the Human Rights Campaign said in a statement to PinkNews: “The Trump-Pence administration’s decision to pull the US out of the UN Human Rights Council is another failure of leadership when it comes to the human rights of LGBTQ people and other vulnerable populations.

“In recent years, the U.N. Human Rights Council advanced a number of initiatives focused on LGBTQ human rights — including a 2016 decision establishing an independent expert on sexual orientation and gender identity. U.S. leadership at that time played a key role in these efforts.

“With this decision, the Trump-Pence administration is leaving a vacuum at the Human Rights Council that may well be filled by countries that have little or no commitment to universal human rights, and will use the Council to pursue their own undemocratic agendas.”

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 17: (AFP OUT) U.S. President Donald Trump speaks while meeting with Jens Stoltenberg, secretary general of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), not pictured, in the Oval Office of the White House May 17, 2018 in Washington, DC. The White House said the two leaders will be discussing the upcoming NATO Summit in July. (Photo by Andrew Harrer-Pool/Getty Images)

US President Donald Trump (Andrew Harrer-Pool/Getty)

Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez said in a statement to PinkNews: “The United States should be leading the world on human rights, not retreating into isolation and separating young children from their families.

“Because of our seat at the table, we’ve been able to give voice to the voiceless around the world while fighting for the council’s fair treatment of our allies like Israel.

“Today, President Trump is sending a signal to the world that we’re too weak to lead and too cowardly to fight for our foundational values.”

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