Human Rights, sexual orientation at the UN Human Rights Council

High Commissioner on Human Rights Navy Pillay says:
“Between tradition and human rights the balance must be struck in favour of the latter”

Geneva – Some delegates of countries defending laws persecuting LGBTI people walked out of the room as the panel convened today by the Human Rights Council began its discussion on violence and discrimination against lesbians, gays, bisexuals, trans and intersex people.

However, despite the walk-out and the delivery of appalling statements using the notion of culture to justify violence and to refuse acknowledging documented cases of discrimination and persecution against LGBTI people worldwide, the debate featuring international experts from Pakistan, Sweden and the USA and also Irina Karla Bacci, vice-president of the National Council for LGBT persons of Brazil and alternate Women’s Secretariat of ILGA, was able to proceed and highlighted through various examples the violence and discriminations LGBTI people have to endure in the world.

Gloria Careaga, Co-Secretary General of ILGA said: “We welcome the Human Rights Council’s will to make clear that no human rights violation, against any people, is acceptable. The hard work made by LGBTI organizations all over the world in fighting for their rights has finally produced a very important result, and the possibility of full global decriminalization of same sex relationships and of depathologization of transgender people seems now much closer. Of course, we shall not stop until all LGBTI rights are guaranteed.”

Renato Sabbadini, Co-Secretary General of ILGA said: “The countries which walked out have missed a historic opportunity to participate in a constructive dialogue, proving with their behaviour that there is no honour nor dignity in the persecution and torture of LGBTI people. Their future generations will feel ashamed when looking back at them for trying to defend the indefensible.”

The panel discussion, co-sponsored by South Africa and Brazil, followed the first ever report on discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity issued by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in December 2011.

The report, submitted to the Human Rights Council following its resolution 17/19 adopted on 17 June 2011, is of the utmost importance being the first official document of the United Nations listing extensive examples of violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Irina Karla Bacci expressed her solidarity with those suffering human rights violations based on sexual orientation or gender identity in the north and south of the Equator, in particular for the LGBTI community in the south. She pointed out that, according to international instruments, any kind of violence against LGBTI people is a violation of human rights, an affront to the Universal Declaration and all UN member states. She exposed the crimes and conditions that LGBTI people face in different regions of the world and, based on her personal experience, revealed that a respectful and plural religion is possible.

Linda Reanate Magano Baumann, director of OutRight Namibia and co-chair of PanAfrica ILGA, had the opportunity to present a statement on behalf of ILGA where she welcomed the release of the United Nation report on sexual orientation and gender identity and recalled that 76 countries in the world still criminalize same sex adult consensual acts and that 7 among countries and districts still punish those acts with death penalty. “States may walk out of this room, but they may never walk away from the responsibility to protect their own citizens from discrimination and violence” is what she said referring to delegates of homophobic countries that abandoned the room. Linda Bauman wished the Human Rights Council to keep in promoting and protecting human rights, putting an end to discrimination and violence people have to face because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.

ILGA wishes to express its appreciation and gratitude to all its members and allies in Geneva for the work done in these extraordinary days: Arc-International, COC-Netherlands and GATE just to mention a few.

Renato Sabbadini, 032474857950
Gloria Careaga

Source – International Lesbian and Gay Association
Stephen Barris / ILGA