(Geneva) – The UN Human Rights Council resolution passed on September 26, 2014, to combat violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity is a critically important achievement for upholding the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 25 human rights and other groups said today. The new resolution follows a June 2011 resolution by the Human Rights Council that was the first by a UN body on human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Uruguay, and 42 additional co-sponsors introduced the resolution. In its presentation to the Council, Chile stated that “this resolution does not seek to create new rights…there are some whose rights are more violated and need more protection.” Colombia added “the report that we request is part of existing international law.” The resolution passed by a vote of 25 to 14, with 7 abstentions, with support from all regions and an increased base of support since 2011.
The resolution survived a total of seven hostile amendments, seeking to strip the resolution of all references to sexual orientation and gender identity. Brazil stated that the proposed amendments would “seek to radically change the purpose and focus of the resolution and change its substance.”
“The leadership of these Latin American states reflects strong commitment to human rights for all and follows the significant progress that is being made by governments and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, travesti, and intersex activists in the region,” said Andres Rivera Duarte of the Observatorio Derechos Humanos y Legislación in Chile.
The resolution asks the high commissioner for human rights to update a 2012 study on violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity (A/HRC/19/41), with a view to sharing good practices and ways to overcome violence and discrimination. The resolution expresses grave concern at acts of violence and discrimination in all regions of the world against individuals because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. This resolution demonstrates that this issue remains on the agenda of the Human Rights Council and sends a message of support to people around the world who experience this type of violence and discrimination, the organizations said.
“While we would have preferred to see an institutionalized reporting mechanism, the council has still sent a strong message of support to human rights defenders working on these issues,” said Jonas Bagas, of TLF Share in the Philippines. “We look forward to states implementing the outcomes of these reports.”
Advocates welcomed supportive remarks by the newly appointed UN high commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, earlier in the council session.
“There is no justification ever, for the degrading, the debasing or the exploitation of other human beings – on whatever basis: nationality, race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, age or caste,” Al Hussein said. These comments follow on groundbreaking work by his predecessor, Navi Pillay, and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, on issues of sexual orientation and gender identity.
“This pattern of human rights violations is global in nature, and therefore requires a global response,” said Nori Spauwen of COC Netherlands. “In all regions of the world, including in Europe, discrimination and violence on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity are a daily reality for many.”
“The Human Rights Council resolution is a significant moment for global LGBTI movements, and for people around the world who have worked tirelessly for human rights for everyone,” said Monica Tabengwa, LGBT rights researcher at Human Rights Watch and an ILGA board member, Kenya. “We intend to press the Council to keep these concerns atop its agenda and to ensure sustained attention and action.”
The following groups support this statement:
Asociación Internacional de Lesbianas, Gays, Bisexuales, Trans e Intersex para America Latina y el Caribe (ILGALAC)
Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales – CELS
Conectas Direitos Humanos
Diverlex Diversidad e Igualdad a través de la Ley
Human Rights Law Centre
Human Rights Watch
International Commission of Jurists
International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission
International Lesbian and Gay Association
International Service for Human Rights
Mulabi/Latin American Space for Sexualities and Rights
Observatorio Derechos Humanos y Legislación
United and Strong
Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby
Records of Vote on the resolution: States supporting: Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba , Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Montenegro, Peru, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Romania, South Africa, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, United Kingdom, United States of America, Venezuela, Viet Nam.
States against the resolution: Algeria, Botswana, Cote d'Ivoire, Ethiopia, Gabon, Indonesia, Kenya, Kuwait, Maldives, Morocco, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, The Russian Federation .
Abstentions: Burkina Faso, China, Congo, Kazakhstan, Namibia, Sierra Leone, India.
Co-Sponsors of the resolution:
Albania, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Montenegro, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United States of America, Uruguay.
The above news release was corrected to reflect the actual records of vote on the resolution.