The UN Human Rights for South-East Asia welcomed the decision by the Human Rights Council to appoint an Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI), and calls on all states in the region to fully support the new mandate.
The Independent Expert appointed by the Human Rights Council will be tasked with assessing the implementation of existing international human rights instruments with regard to ways to overcome violence and discrimination against LGBTI persons, and to identify and address the root causes of violence and discrimination. The expert, who is due to be appointed, will serve for three years.
“For too long, hate speech has undermined the dignity of members of LGBTI in the region, inciting violence and egregious human rights violations,” said Laurent Meillan, acting regional representative of the Human Rights Office in Bangkok. “We encourage all states in the region to cooperate and support this hugely important mandate.
“All human beings are born equal in dignity and rights. Those foundational, bedrock principles of universality and equality mean that all of us, without exception, and regardless of our sex characteristics, are equally entitled to the protections of international human rights law.”
The mandate was adopted by a vote of 23 in favour, 18 against and six abstentions. From Asia-Pacific, Vietnam, the Republic of Korea and Mongolia voted in favour of the mandate, while six other states from the region either abstained or voted against the appointment.
Voting in favor of the resolution
Albania, Belgium, Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, France, Georgia, Germany, Latvia, Macedonia, Mexico, Mongolia, Netherlands, Panama, Paraguay, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Slovenia, Switzerland, UK, Venezuela, Viet Nam.
Voting against the resolution
Algeria, Bangladesh, Burundi, China, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Maldives, Morocco, Nigeria, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Togo, United Arab Emirates.
Abstaining on the resolution
Botswana, Ghana, India, Namibia, Philippines, South Africa.
“LGBTI people remain vulnerable to laws and policies in the region that directly or indirectly discriminate against or criminalize people based on their sexuality or gender identity. The new mandate will help Governments to address these challenges and learn from good practices” said Meillan.
Clear recommendations have been put forward by several human rights mechanisms urging States to take steps to address violations against LGBTI persons. A 2015 report by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights made over 20 recommendations to address serious human rights violations, often perpetrated with impunity, against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.
The UN Human Rights Office published a booklet “Born Free and Equal” in 2012 which sets out the source and scope of some of the core legal obligations that States have to protect the human rights of LGBT people.