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The UN’s new LGBT expert watchdog may lose his job

Meka Beresford November 5, 2016

The United Nation’s new LGBT rights expert may loose his position on Tuesday as a vote will commence which is designed to prevent the position.

The independent expert position was filed by Thai law professor Vitit Muntarbhorn who previously served as a rapporteur on North Korea and worked on the Independent International Commission of inquiry on Syria.

The role was created in June after a vote by the Human Rights Council with the mandate to monitor “violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.”

Supporters of the position have said the vote, which will take place on Tuesday, was planned in an attempt to prevent LGBT rights from being considered as human rights within the UN.

A diplomat who works for human rights issues at the UN said the “proposal threatens the authority of the Human Rights Council and the integrity of the entire special procedures system.”

The vote, which was introduced on behalf of the Group of African States, will determine whether the position is required. All members of the General Assembly must vote.

The text in the proposal proposes to “defer consideration” of the resolution “in order to allow time for further consultations to determine the legal basis” for the position.

The effort may politicise a human rights issue and weaken the framework for safeguarding human rights in the international system.

Akshaya Kumar, deputy United Nations director for Human Rights Watch said: “The reason they’re doing it is to single out this one mandate and cast aspersions on its credibility,

“That would both undermine the bigger system about how [Human Rights Council appointments] work all the time,” Kumar added.

A number of controversial rapporteurs and independent experts have been appointed by the UN, but there has never been a vote on an individual position created by the HRC before.

Graeme Reid, director of the Human Rights Watch LGBT Program said that the language used in the resolution is “insidious” because “the implication is that LGBT rights don’t belong in the human rights system at all.”

Muntarbhorn has already begun work in his position so it is unsure if he will be put at a halt if the vote passes.

The resolution has a chance of passing as it only needs 97 votes. It is already backed by the 54-member Africa Group who raised the vote, and is assumed to have the support of most nations within the organisation of Islamic Cooperations – which would mean 20 extra votes. Albania is the only member of this group which supports the LGBT watchdog position.

More: expert, human rights council, LGBT, LGBT Watchdog, UN, united nations

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