International Humanist and Ethical Union
UN Human Rights Council, 34th Session (27th February – 31st March 2017)
Interactive Dialogue with the High Commissioner for Human Rights
We thank the High Commissioner for his Report.
We were pleased to read of OHCHR action taken in the promotion of LGBTI rights and anti-discrimination on the grounds of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI).
The denial of equality for LGBTI people is prevalent across the world and an ongoing serious human rights concern, as detailed in the High Commissioners Report on the issue at the 29th session.
Symbolic perhaps as to some of the barriers that exist against the realisation and recognition of LGBTI equality and rights were the statements made by Libya and Iran (amongst others) during the interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief (earlier this week) where they claimed that highlighting SOGI-based discrimination had no place in a discussion of FoRB.
Whilst religious belief and practice is not antithetical per se to the respect of LGBTI rights, it should be evident that traditional, religious and cultural practices are often perniciously instrumentalised and used as an excuse to deny human rights and equality to LGBTI people. To state otherwise is to wilfully ignore the harsh reality for many people across the world.
The High Commissioner also highlighted the OHCHR’s work on ending the harmful practice of early and forced marriage. A practice which has affected more than 700 million women and girls worldwide.
Again, it is worth noting how tradition, culture and religion have been instrumentalised, even at this Council, as a reason for pursuing such practices as well as denying girls and women their basic human rights to self-determination, sexual and reproductive health and essential freedoms.
We urge the High Commissioner to explicitly encourage more cross-thematic discussions of human rights at the Council and in mandate holders’ reports. Only when there is a recognition that rights do not exist independently, but support and intersect with each other, can we work to genuinely promote them and identify where they are being manipulated and distorted.
 A/HRC/32/44 A/HRC/26/22, Fact Sheet No.23, Harmful Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children
'Dialogue with the High Commissioner on LGBTI rights', Humanists International