On Monday, the United Nations Security Council held it’s first-ever meeting on LGBT rights and the persecution of LGBT individuals around the world, co-hosted by the United States and Chile. As Ambassador Samantha Power said, “Today we are making UN history.”
Why does this matter?
Groups like ISIL have made the persecution of LGBT individuals part of a pattern of systematic abuse. According to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, thousands of people have been killed or injured worldwide because of their sexual orientation or gender history.
ISIL selectively attacks LGBT people and those perceived as LGBT. #LGBTinUNSC
— Susan Rice (@AmbassadorRice) August 24, 2015
And in many places around the world, laws are used to criminalize LGBT persons instead of prosecuting the people who attack them or violate their rights. But in the 70 year history of the United Nations, the Security Council had never met on LGBT rights. This week’s meeting was a small but important step towards, as Ambassador Power put it “getting this issue into the DNA of the United Nations.”
Members of the Security Council heard directly from LGBT individuals who had been persecuted by ISIL and marked for death for being gay. One of these briefers was Subhi Nahas, a gay man and LGBT advocate who was forced to flee his home in Syria because of death threats from multiple groups. Subhi sat down to talk with Ambassador Power about his experience right before the meeting. Moments before going into the meeting where he became the first LGBT person to brief the Security Council on LGBT rights, Subhi said: “I want them to hear that LGBT rights are human rights.
That’s what this meeting was about. Ambassador Power may have said it best: “We just have to continue to create dedicated spaces and venues for conversations like the one we just had, raising awareness, showing LGBT people, or those being persecuted, that the UN cares, that the Security Council cares, that the General Assembly cares, that the Human Rights Council cares, that the Member States of the United Nations care – that’s extremely important.”
About the Author: Caroline Weisser serves as Digital Director at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations.
For more information:
- Read Ambassador Samantha Power's remarks at the UN Security Council Arria-Formula Meeting on ISIL's targeting of LGBT individuals.
- Read Ambassador Samantha Power's remarks at the stakeout following the UN Security Council Arria-Formula meeting on ISIL's targeting of LGBT individuals.
- Follow the conversation online using #LGBTinUNSC, and follow Ambassador Power @AmbassadorPower on Twitter and on Facebook.