Russia loses seat on UN Human Rights Council
Russia has been stripped of its seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council by a narrow vote.
The country has come under extreme scrutiny in recent years for high levels of corruption and human rights abuses.
In 2013, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a ban on ‘gay propaganda’ into law, widely used as an excuse by authorities to clamp down on the LGBT community. The regressive law has forced the cancellation of Pride parades and led to restrictions of freedom of speech.
Today, UN countries collectively delivered an apparent rebuke to Russia, which had been running for re-election to its seat on the Human Rights Council.
Russia ran against Hungary and Croatia for the two seats available for the Eastern Europe bloc.
Hungary gained 144 votes, ahead of Croatia on 114 votes, with Russia pipped to the post on just 112 votes.
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The Human Rights Council is responsible for the promotion and protection of all human rights around the globe.
Outgoing UN chief Ban Ki-moon recently praised the body for pushing on LGBT issues, though critics have called for human rights standards to more rigidly include LGBT rights.
Mr Ban said: “At the United Nations Human Rights Council, more than one hundred countries have accepted recommendations aimed at protecting LGBT people from discrimination.
“In some cases, the starting point has been to decriminalize gay relationships. Over the past year, three more countries have abandoned criminal sanctions following UN recommendations: Mozambique, The Seychelles and Nauru. I commend their leadership.
“Many have new laws to stop discrimination, punish hate crimes and restrict hate speech. We see new measures to end bullying and provide sensitivity training.
“Almost 40 countries now legally recognise same-sex couples. Some are looking at making it easier for transgender people to have their gender legally recognised.
“These major advances happened thanks to brave individuals who stood up for what is right.”
Other countries with poor human rights records were successfully elected. Saudi Arabia topped the ballot in the Asian region, securing a seat alongside China, Japan and Iraq.