Less than a year after the UN removed sexual orientation from a resolution condemning extrajudicial killings (and subsequently put it back), the United Nations Human Rights Council passed a resolution condemning discrimination against people based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The resolution establishes an international panel on anti-LGBT discrimination, to convene next year. You can read the text of the resolution at the bottom of the post.
This is a pretty big deal, and long overdue. What makes it even more impressive is that resolution was initiated by South Africa and backed by Brazil, two countries not necessarily known for their tolerant attitudes toward sexual minorities. The resolution passed 23-19-3. As far as I know (and I could be wrong) this is the first time the UN human rights body has spoken out in a big way regarding the everyday violence and discrimination aimed at people because of sexual orientation or gender identity. The backers of the resolution included the United States, the European Union and several Latin American nations.
There were, of course, the naysayers. The Organization of the Islamic Conference, for example was pretty set against it, as well as Nigeria and Russia. The basic argument against is it, EWWWW! UNNATURAL! (Despite evidence to the contrary.)
Of course, anyone who thinks about it for two seconds should be able to see that this is a human rights issue of urgent importance. Gay people are under constant threat of violence and, even in the most liberal countries, are not allowed the same rights as straight people. (The United States, for example, does not provide any protections for LGBT people who are discriminated against in the workplace, and the law regarding same-sex relationships are a patchwork across the world.)
The rights we take for granted every day are denied to LGBT people simply because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. The international community has agreed on a set of rights to which all people, regardless of race, gender, religion or class, are entitled. Last time I checked, gay and trans people are, well, people. They are people with families and friends and lovers and deserver to live in a world free of violence and discrimination. (Not that the world is free of violence and discrimination for other groups, but that is a subject for another post.) It’s good to see that the international community is finally saying that out loud.
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons