Prof. Vitit Muntarbhorn (above) is the UN’s newly appointed Independent Expert on violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI).
GENEVA, Jan. 25, 2017 – Islamic and African nations, where violence and discrimination against the LGBTI community are most prevalent, boycotted a session held yesterday and today with the first U.N. expert on anti-gay violence and discrimination.
Prof. Vitit Muntarhbhorn, the UN’s new Independent Expert (IE) on violence and discriminiation based on sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI), held his first public consultations with UN member states and NGOs yesterday and today.
No country from the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) or the 54-member African Group took the floor, and barely a handful were even in the room.
The new mandate was adopted by the UNHRC in June 2016, and confirmed by the UN General Assembly in December 2016 amidst a heated vote in which the OIC and African Group made a failed bid to block passage of the new mandate.
During the June 2016 vote, the OIC, represented by Pakistan, submitted a total of 11 amendments to gut the resolution. Only 4 of these proposed amendments were adopted. But, while some of the most objectionable amendments – such as one which would have removed 6 out of the resolution’s 8 paragraphs and another seeking to erase completely the term sexual orientation and replace it with the term sexual disorientation – were rejected, those ultimately adopted significantly weakened the resolution.
Specifically, the accepted amendments added language calling for the respect of social and religious sensitivities of the people of different countries and of not resorting to using external pressures and coercive measures against states.
After the OIC and African Group failed to vote down the resolution, Egypt announced it would boycott the SOGI mandate of protecting LGBTI individuals against violence, and dozens of other like-minded states followed.
During the consultation, Prof. Muntarbhorn announced that he would be making his first country visits as IE to Argentina and other states in South America. Of the 72 states in the world which criminalize homosexual relations, only two are within South America.
UN Watch took the floor to urge the new U.N. monitor to prioritize urgent situations.