Gay rights supporters win UN victory to keep UN LGBT expert

Gay rights supporters win UN victory to keep UN LGBT expert

Then gay rights groups in South Africa penned an open letter to the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) asking South African representatives to the United Nations to vote against a resolution proposed by the African Group that would have suspended the appointment of the Independent Expert.

In a lead up to what LGBT activists considered the most important vote by the UN regarding their agenda in years, the UN General Assembly's human rights committee further paved the way for a controversial new UN post to enforce special new rights based upon the sexual preference and behavior of individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT). They also attempted to simply suspend the expert, Vitit Muntarbhorn of Thailand who was appointed to the role back in September, report ABC news.

It now goes to the 193-member General Assembly for a final vote next month, when the Africans could again try to seek a delay.

"Instances of murder, killings, rape, mutilation and other cruel treatment are well documented in various parts of the world and by many sources", Vitit Muntarbhorn, the first-ever UN Independent Expert on the protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, told a meeting on LGBTI equality, organized by the Council of Europe in Strasbourg.

The new amended draft resolution - without the suspension of the LGBT rights expert - was adopted by a vote of 94 to 3, with 80 abstentions. China, Russia, Iran and Saudi Arabia were among the countries that supported the African bid to suspend the appointment.

South Africa was one of the few African states that did not support delaying Muntarbhorn's appointment.

According to a United Nations human rights report past year, at least 76 countries retain laws used to criminalize and harass people on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity or expression, including laws criminalizing consensual same-sex relationships among adults.

"The African group is wondering which worldwide legal instrument defines the concept of sexual orientation and gender identity", said Botswana's United Nations ambassador Charles Ntwaagae.

Leaders of African nations and their supporters have failed to suspend the first U.N. independent expert charged with investigating violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity around the world.

Russian Federation and Egypt, speaking on behalf of the 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, said they would not recognize the mandate of the gay rights investigator and would not cooperate with Muntarbhorn.

Jessica Stern, executive director of the USA -based gay rights group OutRight Action International, said the vote confirmed that countries believe in the council. If you would like to discuss another topic, look for a relevant article.

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