UN Human Rights Council Adopts Resolution on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
June 20, 2011
Rainbow Flags at Gay Parade

The UN Human Rights Council adopted the first ever UN resolution on the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons (LGBT) on June 17, 2011. This is the first UN resolution solely focused on LGBT persons. Secretary Clinton said, "This represents a historic moment to highlight the human rights abuses and violations that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people face around the world based solely on who they are and whom they love."

She continued, "...The United States worked with the main sponsor, South Africa, and a number of other countries from many regions of the world to help pass this resolution, including Brazil, Colombia, members of the European Union, and others. This resolution will commission the first ever UN report on the challenges that LGBT persons face around the globe and will open a broader international discussion on how to best promote and protect the human rights of LGBT persons.

"All over the world, people face human rights abuses and violations because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, including torture, rape, criminal sanctions, and killing. Today's landmark resolution affirms that human rights are universal. People cannot be excluded from protection simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The United States will continue to stand up for human rights wherever there is inequality and we will seek more commitments from countries to join this important resolution."

Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe and Suzanne Nossel, Deputy Assistant Secretaries for International Organization Affairs, and Daniel Baer, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, held a Special Teleconference Briefing to discuss the historic resolution. Ambassador Donahoe said, "It is the first internationally recognized form of protection for lesbian, gay, transgender, and bisexual people, and it is based on a very simple and elegant idea that all individuals deserve universal rights." She also pointed out two other aspects of this resolution."

She continued, "...First of all, it includes an expression of grave concern about acts of violence and discrimination that are committed against individuals because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. And from our vantage point, that was an essential element because there are horrific acts of violence and discrimination that are committed against LGBT people around the world in many places, and sexual orientation is even criminalized in many places. So the extent of support we got for expressing this idea that people deserve to be protected regardless of who they are and who they love and how they want to live their lives was really essential.

"Second, the operational provision of the resolution instructs the high commissioner for human rights to document discriminatory laws and practices that take place around the world, and the acts of violence that have taken place against individuals based on sexual orientation and gender identity. And we've asked her to come back and report to the Council, and we hope this is just the beginning of a movement within the international community, within the UN, and at the Human Rights Council where we can work together to further promote and protect the human rights of LGBT people."

Deputy Assistant Secretary Nossel spoke after Ambassador Donahue. She said, "This is really a paradigmatic example of using the UN system to advance one of President Obama's top policy priorities. We've been able to deliver on broad international support behind an agenda that we have set as a key goal for this Administration.

"This resolution, I think, will be a lifeline to those struggling for their rights around the world who now know that they have the weight of the United Nations behind them, that they're not alone, that they can turn to the international system for protection. When they're abused, when they'e subject to violence, they can reach out and the Human Rights Council and the high commissioner for human rights are there to support them."

Deputy Assistant Secretary Nossel then turned it over to Deputy Assistant Secretary Baer. He said, "...Both the President and Secretary Clinton have made LGBT human rights a priority. Secretary Clinton gave a speech last year in which she said gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights. She has sent out a cable to all ambassadors instructing them that LGBT human rights are part of our comprehensive human rights policy. And within the context of the UN system, there has been a series of events leading up to today's resolution which was, as Suzanne indicated, led by South Africa, but Ambassador Donahoe's team here put together a side event here last September on LGBT human rights and violence against LGBT people."

You can read Secretary Clinton's complete statement here, and you can find a complete transcript of the Briefing on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Resolution at UN Human Rights Council here.

Related Content: Fact Sheet: U.S. Accomplishments at the UN Human Rights Council's 17th Session



West Virginia, USA
June 21, 2011

Pam in West Virginia writes:

How wonderful! Now if only all of US would follow suit.

June 21, 2011

Ahmad in Afghanistan writes:

I think there are other priorties UN should think about.

Abdus S.
Saudi Arabia
July 20, 2011

Abdus in Saudi Arabia writes:

This is an excellent decision. Before coming to Saudia I never heard of so many sexual assaults. After I came here I was astronished to see that what is going on in this so called best islamic country. You just ask any foreigner in Saudia and he wil tell you what is going on in Saudi homes with maids. I dont know why all international human right NGOs are silent on this issue. I feel this is the biggest unhuman crime going in Saudia.


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