The UK gay Humanist charity the Pink Triangle Trust (PTT) has warmly welcomed the UN Human Rights Council resolution on sexual orientation. It is the first UN resolution ever to bring specific focus to human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
The ground-breaking resolution was passed on June 17 with a narrow majority of 23 to 19 with 3 abstentions. It expressed “grave concern at acts of violence and discrimination, in all regions of the world, committed against individuals because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.” It also established a formal UN process to document human rights abuses against gays and lesbians, including discriminatory laws and acts of violence.
The debate on the resolution saw support from all regions of the world, with states from Africa, Asia, Europe, and North and South America expressing their support. But there was also strong opposition from many governments. Nigeria claimed the resolution went against the wishes of most Africans. Mauritania called the resolution “an attempt to replace the natural rights of a human being with an unnatural right”. Speaking on behalf of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, Pakistan’s envoy to the UN in Geneva said: “I am seriously concerned at the attempt to introduce to the United Nations some notions that have no legal foundation”.
Commenting on the resolution the PTT Secretary George Broadhead said: “This marks a major step forward in the worldwide campaign for LGBT rights. Congratulations are due to South Africa for proposing it and the twenty three nations who voted for it. It is highly significant, however, that the main opposition to the resolution came from African counties like Nigeria and Uganda in which religious-based homophobia is rife and Muslim countries like Bangladesh, Bahrain, Djibouti, Jordan, Maldives, Malaysia, Mauritania, Pakistan, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. This is reminiscent of the staunch opposition of Muslim states to the repeated attempts made by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) to be granted NGO consultative status at the UN, and clearly demonstrates the serious obstacle that Islam puts in the way of LGBT rights.”