In the session that ended on 17 June, the council passed a
resolution expressing "grave concern" at the discrimination and
violence experienced by people all over the world because of their
sexual orientation or gender identity.
The resolution was introduced by South Africa and co-sponsored by
42 countries from all regions of the world. It was passed 23 to 19,
with 3 abstentions.
It calls for the UN high commissioner for human rights to
commission a global study on human rights violations on the basis
of gender identity and sexual orientation. When completed at the
end of 2011, this report should provide important guidance on how
existing human rights law can be used to end violations on the
basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, Human Rights Watch
said. The council will discuss the report at its session in March
"The Human Rights Council has taken a first bold step into
territory previously considered off-limits," said Graeme Reid, LGBT
rights director at Human Rights Watch.
"We hope this groundbreaking step will spur greater efforts to
address the horrible abuses and discrimination against people on
the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity. In 1996,
South Africa set an example to the world by including 'sexual
orientation' in its constitution. Now South Africa has led the UN
to help create a global environment in which the human rights of
LGBT people are protected."
Likewise, gay Humanist charity the Pink Triangle Trust also
welcomed the motion. PTT Secretary George Broadhead said: "This
marks a major step forward in the worldwide campaign for LGBT
rights. Congratulations are due to South Africa for proposing it
and the twenty three nations who voted for it.
"It is highly significant, however, that the main opposition to
the resolution came from African counties like Nigeria and Uganda
in which religious-based homophobia is rife and Muslim countries
like Bangladesh, Bahrain, Djibouti, Jordan, Maldives, Malaysia,
Mauritania, Pakistan, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.This is reminiscent of
the staunch opposition of Muslim states to the repeated attempts
made by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and
Intersex Association (ILGA) to be granted NGO consultative status
at the UN, and clearly demonstrates the serious obstacle that Islam
puts in the way of LGBT rights."