The members of the United Nations Human Rights Council have voted to renew the mandate of its Independent Expert on the protection against violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI).
The resolution was adopted by a vote of twenty seven in favour, with twelve countries voting against it and seven countries abstaining from the vote.
The resolution was put forward during the Human Rights Council’s 41st session which took place from June 24 to July 12 this year.
The campaign calling on the Human Rights Council to renew the mandate of the UN Independent Expert on SOGI was supported by 1,312 non-governmental organizations from across 174 states and territories around the world.
The agenda item had to overcome ten amendments put forward by countries that oppose LGBTQI human rights, but the core of the resolution in affirming the universal nature of international human rights law survived that process.
“This is another historic victory, not only for communities of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities, but for humanity as a whole”, said Paula Sebastiao of Arquivo de Identidade Angolano in Angola and Simran Shaikh, Asia coordinator of the Trans Respect v. Transphobia project, on behalf of a coalition of 60 human rights groups.
“Following the call from a record number of organizations from every region imaginable, the UN Human Rights Council has reaffirmed its commitment to combat discrimination and violence on grounds of SOGI and has reminded all states of their obligations towards these communities.”
Created in 2016, the UN Independent Expert on SOGI has been supported by a growing number of countries from around the world.
The resolution to create and renew the mandate was presented by a core group of seven Latin American countries – Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, and Uruguay.
“The renewal of this mandate demonstrates how United Nations States’ support for tackling violence and discrimination against people of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities has grown tremendously,” said UN Trans Advocacy Week campaigners in a statement released after the vote.
“The Independent Expert is crucial in bringing international attention to specific violations and challenges faced by trans and gender-diverse persons in all regions.”
“The existence of a specific UN human rights mechanism looking at SOGI issues is crucial for our communities to be heard at the global level,” added Ryan Silverio of ASEAN SOGIE Caucus from the Philippines.
“If the world is truly committed to leaving no one behind, it can’t shy away from addressing the violence and discrimination that we face. Laws criminalising our identities and actions are unjust and should no longer be tolerated”.
The UN Independent Expert on SOGI is tasked with assessing implementation of existing international human rights law, by talking to UN member states, and working collaboratively with other UN and regional mechanisms to address violence and discrimination.
Through the work of this mandate since 2016, the impact of criminalisation of same-sex relations and lack of legal gender recognition, the importance of data-collection specific to SOGI communities, and examples of good practices to prevent discrimination have been highlighted globally, with visits to Argentina, Georgia, Mozambique and Ukraine.
“The extraordinary work of hundreds of human rights defenders and grassroots organisations from all over the world is what made today’s historic result possible”, said Tuisina Ymania Brown and Luz Elena Aranda, co-Secretaries General at ILGA World.
“Their continuous push for change prompted 56 states to support the renewal of the mandate and send a clear message that the Human Rights Council will support protections against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.”
“We hope that all governments cooperate fully with the UN Independent Expert on SOGI in this important work to bring about a world free from violence and discrimination for all people regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity.”