- Views & Opinions
The United Nations’ Human Rights Council on Sept. 26 adopted a resolution condemning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
“The Human Rights Council has taken a fundamental step forward by reaffirming one of the United Nations’ key principles — that everyone is equal in dignity and rights,” said Jessica Stern, executive director of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission. “This resolution puts the UN on a trajectory to address the discrimination and violence LGBT persons suffer daily across the world.”
Stern added, “The council is confirming that LGBT people have universal human rights. We know, of course, that the struggle is long, and that we will need the council to focus on the violations we suffer for many years to come. But for now, we celebrate that the majority of States stood with us to declare, unequivocally, that human rights are for everyone, everywhere.”
The resolution, led by Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Uruguay, followed a resolution in 2011 on the same topic led by South Africa and calls on the UN Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights to gather and publish information on how best to overcome discrimination and violence.
Opponents of the resolution employed procedural tactics to try to weaken the measure, presenting seven amendments that would have eliminated references to sexual orientation and gender identity from the text, and making the resolution applicable only to countries that proactively declare support for sexual diversity and rights.
These amendments were defeated and the resolution passed with 21 votes in favor, 16 votes against and seven abstentions.
In a statement from the White House, National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice said, “The United States applauds today’s adoption by the UN Human Rights Council of a resolution in support of the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons. The second such resolution to be passed by the UN Human Rights Council, today’s resolution reiterates that LGBT persons are entitled to the human rights and fundamental freedoms that are the birthright of all humankind, expresses grave concern regarding acts of violence and discrimination against LGBT persons, and requests the preparation of an important new report on preventing such abuses. We thank sponsors Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Uruguay for their leadership, and commend the Council for taking another historic step to reinforce the unassailable principle that LGBT rights are human rights.”
Samantha Powers, the United States’ ambassador to the UN, said in a statement, “This resolution mandates a much-needed UN report that will investigate and bring to the world’s attention the violence and discrimination faced by individuals around the world simply because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.”