UN to decide whether to keep LGBT human rights watch
While everyone’s attention was focused on the US elections last week, a quiet battle was being waged at the United Nations as a group of nations want the newly-created position of LGBT human rights watch blocked.
The UN General Assembly was supposed decide last November 8 on whether to cancel a move last June by the UN Human Rights Council to set up a watchdog for LGBT rights.
However, this decision has been postponed to a later date.
No to LGBT human rights watch
After the UN Human Rights Council authorized the appointment of an expert to monitor LGBT rights last June 30, a coalition of African nations came up with a resolution blocking the watchdog position.
Among the nations that have opposed the creation of the position include Botswana and South Africa.
Specifically, Charles Ntwaagae, Botswana’s ambassador to the UN, said the African nations want to delay the creation of the position to discuss “the legality of the creation of this mandate.”
Likewise, Ntwaagae said the UN should focus on issues like “the right to development and the racism agenda.”
He also said the sexual orientation and gender identity “are not and should not be linked to existing international human rights instruments.”
The UN Human Rights Council had adopted the resolution authorizing the creation with a 23-18 vote and six abstentions. After, Vitit Muntarbhorn of Thailand had been appointed in September to take up the position.
Amending the LGBT human rights watch
To address the call for delay by the African nations, an amendment to the UN Human Rights Council resolution has been introduced.
This amendment– removing the anti-LGBT language in the proposal– is being pushed by a coalition of Latin American and Caribbean nations: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Mexico, and Uruguay.
Because of the tabling of the African nations’ proposal, discussions on this amendment has also been postponed.
Sarah Mendelson, the US deputy ambassador, has expressed support for the amendment. Likewise, Francesca Cardona, representing the European Union, said countries must “protect the human rights of all individuals without distinction of any kind.”
“This move is harmful to non-violence and anti-discrimination efforts in relation to lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people around the world,” said Pooja Patel GBT rights programme manager at the International Service of Human Rights (ISHR).
“It will also entrench an ugly precedent whereby the [social, humanitarian and cultural] committee could effectively reverse any decision by the Human Rights Council, completely undermining its integrity and independence,” Patel said.