Adam Polaski

UN Human Rights Council Passes Pro-LGBT Resolution

Filed By Adam Polaski | June 17, 2011 1:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: gender identity, human rights commission, sexual orientation, United Nations

HumanRightsCouncil.jpgEarlier today, the United Nations' Human Rights Council approved a resolution that declared that people should be "entitled to all rights and freedoms without distinction of any kind," including their sexual orientation and gender identity. This is the first time that a resolution has passed in the United Nations specifically condemning human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

South Africa, Brazil, and 39 other co-sponsors introduced the resolution. In the final vote of the 47-member body of the Human Rights Council, 23 lent their support, 19 opposed, and 3 abstained. European Union members, the United States, and much of South America supported the resolution, while African and Middle Eastern countries opposed the resolution. China, Burkina Faso, and Zambia abstained.

The resolution launches an official study, to be completed before December 2011, that will document laws and violent practices that discriminate against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. It also establishes plans for a panel discussion to occur two sessions from now to further discuss the importance of protecting people who are discriminated based on their sexual minority status.

Thirteen human rights organizations , including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Coalition of African Lesbians, and Transgender Europe, applauded the U.N.'s decision today in a press release, announcing:

This commitment of the Human Rights Council sends an important signal of support to human rights defenders working on these issues, and recognizes the legitimacy of their work.

After the announcement, U.S. ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe explained the importance of the resolution.

"You just witnessed a historic moment at the Human Rights Council and within the U.N. system with a landmark resolution protecting human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people," she said.

U.S. deputy assistant secretary Daniel Baer also responded positively to the monumental vote, responding specifically to the 19 countries that opposed the resolution.

"If you look at the history of human rights and the ever expanding circle of who counts as human," he said, "every time that circle has expanded there have been those that have dissented and in every case they have been proven wrong over time."

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