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(New York) – The United Nations Human Rights Council has appointed Graeme Reid, director of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights program at Human Rights Watch, as UN independent expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

On November 1, 2023, Reid will assume his new role, to analyze and raise awareness of the root causes of violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, assess how international human rights law is implemented, maintain dialogue and consultations with states and other stakeholders, and identify best practices and gaps in existing law and policy.  The ability to address violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity in a systematic manner within the UN system helps to affirm the core principles of universality, indivisibility, and interconnectedness when it comes to upholding human rights for all.

“Graeme has had an incredibly impactful 12 years at Human Rights Watch, building on our principled, hard-hitting, yet nuanced work on a host of highly contentious, complex, and pressing issues affecting LGBT communities worldwide,” said Tirana Hassan, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “He is a deeply respected colleague and has played a significant role globally in mainstreaming LGBT rights within the broader human rights framework, effectively mobilizing our strengths to that end.”

The LGBT team has made effective use of Human Rights Watch’s core methodology of investigating and compiling credible, reliable information about the harmful effects of discriminatory laws and abusive practices. This has often proved vital for partner organizations seeking to advance the rights of LGBT people around the world, particularly in the 66 countries that still criminalize same-sex relations.

Among other accomplishments at Human Rights Watch, Reid’s team and partners helped to mobilize governments to foreground LGBT rights in UN institutions – including the creation in 2016 of the independent expert position he is assuming. Reid emphasized that respect for LGBT people is critical to protecting minority rights and as a litmus test for how governments treat everyone. Autocratic abuses often start with attacking LGBT communities and then move on to other targets, and political homophobia is frequently used as a way of gaining or consolidating power by rights-abusing governments.

“Our dedicated and passionate activists will continue the LGBT team’s work of building a world where we can all express ourselves and show our love freely and safely,” Hassan said. “We congratulate Graeme on his appointment and look forward to working closely with him in this new role.”

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