The United Nations is hosting a panel discussion today to explore discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The event, which will bring together non-governmental organisations, UN representatives and state delegates, is an initiative co-sponsored by Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay.

It will be addressed by Mary Robinson, the former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, government ministers from Argentina and Brazil, and representatives from UNAIDS and the current Human Rights High Commissioner.

The event, held in parallel with the session of the third committee of the UN General Assembly, will discuss the the Yogyakarta Principles.

Named after the Indonesian city where they were adopted, the principles were introduced by 29 international human rights experts at a UN Human Rights Council session in Geneva in March 2007.

They refer to the application of international human rights law in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity and address issues such as rape and gender-based violence, extra-judicial executions, torture and medical abuses, repressions of free speech and discrimination in the public services.

The Yogyakarta Principles call for action from the UN human rights system, national human rights institutions, non-governmental organisations, and others.

Last year 54 states called for the UN Human Rights Council to act against egregious violations of the rights of LGBT people.

Scott Long, director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights Programme at Human Rights Watch, one of the event’s organisers, welcomed the strategy:

“These principles establish basic standards for how governments should treat people whose rights are too often denied and whose dignity is too often reviled,” he said.

“Firmly grounded in law and precedent, they enshrine a simple idea: human rights do not admit exceptions.”