After an on-going debate, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has adopted a resolution to renew the position of the UN Independent Expert on the protection against violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI).
The role of the UN Independent Expert on SOGI was established in 2016. According to Mambaonline, the UN expert is tasked with assessing the implementation of international human rights law on sexual orientation and gender identity; raising awareness of violence and discrimination suffered by LGBTI communities; engaging in dialogue and cooperating with states to implement measures; and providing advice and technical assistance where needed.
On 12 July, the UNHRC voted on the resolution in a vote of 27 countries in favour, 12 against and 7 abstaining. South Africa was amongst the countries that voted in favour of the global expert despite having abstained from the landmark vote to back the position back in 2016.
Other countries that backed the renewal of the important role include: Australia, Brazil, Cuba, Italy, Mexico, Rwanda, Spain, Tunisia, and the UK. As well as having the support of more than 1,300 non-governmental organisations from 174 states and territories.
Those that opposed the role were most notably nations that have strong anti-gay legislation or traditionally reject monitoring of their repressive laws or policies: Afghanistan, Bahrain, China, Egypt, Iraq, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Somalia.
“I am as humbled and determined as the first day to continue at your side in this, the journey of a lifetime,” said the current UN Independent Expert on SOGI, Madrigal-Borloz in a tweet.
“This is another historic victory, not only for communities of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities, but for humanity as a whole,” commented Paula Sebastiao of Arquivo de Identidade Angolano in Angola and Simran Shaikh, Asia coordinator of the Trans Respect v. Transphobia project, on behalf of
60 human rights groups worldwide.
“Following the call from a record number of organisations from every region imaginable, the UN Human Rights Council has reaffirmed its commitment to combat discrimination and violence on grounds of SOGI and has reminded all states of their obligations towards these communities,” they said.