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UN Adopts Groundbreaking Resolution Affirming LGBT Rights are Human Rights

The Task Force hails the UN Human Rights Council’s adoption today of a groundbreaking resolution addressing acts of violence and discrimination against LGBT people. It is the first official UN resolution to focus exclusively on human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity. It  is also the first time gender identity has been included in such a formal UN text. According to The Council for Global Equality, of which the Task Force is a member:

The text calls on the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a global study outlining discriminatory laws, practices and acts of violence directed at LGBT individuals, with recommendations on how to put an end to such fundamental human rights abuses. The study will be reviewed by the UN Human Rights Council next year. The resolution was tabled by South Africa and it enjoyed strong support from the United States and a broad coalition of voting states from all regions of the world. It was adopted in Geneva today by a vote of 23 countries in support, 19 against and 3 abstentions.

The United States was represented at the adoption by U.S. Ambassador Eileen Donahoe and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Baer. Baer noted the importance the United States placed on this vote, emphasizing that “this resolution confirms to millions of people around the world that every person – every human being on this planet – matters. As Secretary Clinton said, ‘Gay rights are human rights.’ So are the rights of religious minorities, the disabled and so many others who have been historically ignored or persecuted, not for what they do but for what they are. This is an important step in the quest for dignity for all. And I am proud that the U.S. is a part of it.”

According to The Council for Global Equality, the United States was an official co-sponsor of the resolution and worked with South Africa and other co-sponsors from Europe, Latin America and Asia to secure its passage.

In addition, an NGO coalition has been advocating for the resolution’s adoption. It issued a joint statement, saying in part:

Today’s resolution is the first UN resolution ever to bring specific focus to human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and follows a joint statement on these issues delivered at the March session of the council. It affirms the universality of human rights, and notes concern about acts of violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. This commitment of the Human Rights Council sends an important signal of support to human rights defenders working on these issues, and recognizes the legitimacy of their work.