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Home / Press Release / U.N. Human Rights Council Urged to Vote in Favor of Key Positions for Advancing Equality
June 29, 2016

U.N. Human Rights Council Urged to Vote in Favor of Key Positions for Advancing Equality

Washington, D.C. - Human Rights First today expressed support for the creation of the position of U.N. Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) and for the renewal of the mandate of the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus. The organization offered its support for both positions in a letter to the U.S. Representative to the U.N. Human Rights Council Ambassador Keith Harper, emphasizing the importance of both positions to advancing equal human rights protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people.

"Around the world, many activists and organizations have united around the call for the creation of the Independent Expert position to ensure that the concerns faced by LGBT people internationally continue to be an essential part of the international human rights dialogue… In the wake of the recent tragic events in Orlando, it is pressing that the United States’ dialogue with other delegations on support for the position include our own shortcomings regarding the human rights of LGBT people and highlight how the United States could benefit from the expertise of the appointee,” wrote Human Rights First’s Shawn Gaylord. "I would also like to highlight our support for the renewal of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus…[W]e are particularly concerned about a new law that could be interpreted to infringe on the rights of LGBT Belarusians.”

The U.N. Human Rights Council is scheduled to vote on both of these positions this week during meetings in Geneva. Human Rights First staff recently returned from El Salvador, where they met with activists and LGBT organizations who underscored the importance of the Independent Expert on SOGI to report on violence and discrimination suffered by El Salvador’s LGBT community.

In Belarus, a new law that bans the dissemination of any information "discrediting the institution of family and marriage" to children threatens to limit the human rights of the Belarusian LGBT community, as well as journalists and other activists. Human Rights First notes that the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus has an important role in monitoring the implementation of this law as well as other oppressive laws and ongoing human rights abuses in the country.

For more information or to speak with Gaylord, contact Mary Elizabeth Margolis at [email protected] or 212-845-5269.