The U.N. General Assembly today rejected a plan to undo the U.N. Human Rights Council’s June decision to hire a watchdog to investigate violations of LGBTI rights.
Among the countries supporting the LGBTI rapporteur were South Africa, which had earlier indicated support for the anti-LGBTI proposal; Sri Lanka and Kiribati, two countries that still have anti-homosexuality laws; and Belize, which had such a law until it was overturned in court earlier this year.
Six countries with anti-homosexuality laws abstained: Barbados, India, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Somalia, and Trinidad and Tobago.
Several countries said after the 84-77 vote that they would not recognize or cooperate with the new special U.N. rapporteur on sexual orientation and gender identity, Voice of America said.
African states, led by Botswana, retroactively sought to block the work of Vitit Muntarbhorn, whose mandate came into effect on November 1 as the first U.N. Independent Expert on the Protection against Violence and Discrimination based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI). The position was created by the Geneva-based U.N. Human Rights Council last June.
“It’s outrageous of parts of the African group to try to overturn the decision by the Human Rights Council,” British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft told reporters. Several states agreed that the challenge to the council’s authority was inappropriate.
South Africa was one of the few African states that did not support delaying Muntarbhorn’s appointment.
“South Africa is still healing the deep wounds caused by racial discrimination. We are not going to add fresh wounds to these wounds we are trying to heal in South Africa,” their envoy said.
Latin American states, supported by many Western countries, submitted an amendment to the resolution deleting the request for the postponement. That amendment was adopted, as was the revised resolution, allowing the appointment to go forward.
Nearly 800 civil society groups signed an open letter calling on states not to block the SOGI appointment.
“The establishment of the Independent Expert does not seek to create new standards, but simply to address within the existing framework provided by established international human rights law a protection gap for individuals facing violence and discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity,” the letter reads in part.