The top human rights body at the United Nations has voted to appoint an independent expert on protection from violence and discrimination against LGBT, charged with identifying the root causes of violence and discrimination against people based on their sexual orientation and gender identity, and liaising with governments about ways to protect them.
The milestone achievement for ensuring LGBT rights was only passed narrowly by the 47-member council. 23 nations voted in favour, primarily from Europe and Latin America. Six countries abstained, including India, South Africa and the Philippines. The 18 votes against the move came from Russia, Africa and most of the Muslim countries on the panel.
A spokesperson for the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said in a statement to journalists in New York: “I can tell you that the Secretary-General believes that the Human Rights Council marked another important step forward when it decided to appoint a UN Independent Expert to monitor and report on levels of violence and discrimination against LGBT people globally.
“It is clear that there’s still so much that needs to be done to protect people from violence, tackle discrimination at work, end bullying in schools and ensure access to healthcare, housing and essential services.”
The expert will be appointed in September and spend their three-year term visiting governments and discussing allegations of human rights abuses.