The United Nations has voted to keep the independent LGBT rights expert despite major opposition.
Many nations in the Middle East, Africa, as well as China and Russia all were opposed to the first official charged with investigating violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Vitit Muntarbhorn of Thailand, who was appointed on 30 September, had his position called into dispute.
Botswana’s UN Ambasador Charles Ntwaagae, who sponsored the resolution, reiterated many in Africa’s alarm the Human Rights Council is delving into national matters and attempting to focus on people ‘on the grounds of their sexual interests and behaviors’ while ignoring discrimination on other grounds including color, race, sex or religion.
However, US deputy ambassador Sarah Mendelson said the Human Rights Council had approved numerous resolutions on violence and discrimination against other minorities.
At least 76 countries around the world have laws in their books that criminalize LGBTI people.
Latin American, North American, and many in Europe voted for the appointment of the expert.
The UN’s human rights committee voted 84-77 with 12 abstentions to keep a role working on LGBTI rights.
850 non-governmental organizations from 156 countries around the world had called on the General Assembly to take a stand that LGBTI rights are human rights.
‘The Third Committee’s vote affirms that the right to be protected from violence and discrimination applies equally to LGBT people,’ said Boris Dittrich, LGBT rights advocacy director at Human Rights Watch.
‘It also respects the integrity of the Human Rights Council, as the UN’s top human rights body, to ensure that mechanisms are in place to protect rights not just in theory, but in practice.’