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UN Human Rights Council votes to keep expert to protect LGBT+ rights

Lily Wakefield July 12, 2019

Vitit Muntarbhorn became the first Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity for the UN Human Rights Council in 2016. (Albin Lohr-Jones/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

The United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) has voted to renew an independent expert to protect LGBT+ people worldwide for a second term.

The UN independent expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (IE SOGI) works to raise awareness of, and implement ways to overcome, violence and discrimination against LGBT+ people in HRC member states.

Of the 47 member states, 27 voted today (July 12) to extend the mandate for another three year term, 12 voted against the extension and seven abstained.

Jean Freedberg, HRC director of global partnerships, said in a statement: “As LGBTQ people around the world face unprecedented challenges and the rolling back of previously secured protections, including by the Trump-Pence administration in the United States, it is heartening that the United Nations has taken this bold step once again to protect our communities from violence and discrimination.”

The first IE SOGI, Vitit Muntarbhorn, was appointed in 2016 and the position is currently held by Costa Rican jurist Victor Madrigal-Borloz who took over the role in 2018.

Trump administration withdrew the United States from the UN Human Rights Council.
The Trump administration withdrew the United States from the UN Human Rights Council. (Mark Wilson/Getty)

The United States is no longer a member of the UN Human Rights Council

Freedberg continued: “Today’s vote ensures that the vital work begun by Vitit Muntabhorn and Victor Madrigal-Borloz on behalf of LGBTQ people will continue, and that countries will be held accountable to protect their LGBTQ citizens.

“Yet even as we celebrate this victory, there is so much more to be done to truly protect even the most vulnerable among us, including transgender and intersex people, and to advance our path towards full equality.”

Last year, the Trump administration decided to withdraw the United States from the HRC because of “ideological differences.”

OutRight Action International previously told PinkNews: “For many LGBTIQ people, the Human Rights Council and the United Nations as a whole are ports of last call when their own governments fail them.”

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