The high level segment is normally a space where senior representatives of states share their human rights priorities. As such it does provide a reasonable bell weather of the human rights priorities of different states. It’s important to note that, apart from the now established LGBTI rights supporters in Latin America and Europe, for the first time, Mongolia, Botswana and Fiji came on board in their support for LGBT rights and do this in the high level segment, signals the importance these states attach to the issue. Considering that Mongolia is from the Asian region and will be a member of the Council until 2018, and Botswana will be a member of the Council until 2017, these are potentially significant statements of intent. The following were the summary of statements on LGBTI concerns by states in the High Level Segment.
H.E. Ms. Susana Mabel Malcorra, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Argentina observed that it was precisely the purpose of collaborating on inclusion and combating discrimination and violence, which has led to Argentina to participate in international initiatives that seek that in a joint effort we respect our differences, we can move towards a world where it doesn’t matter the race, religion, gender or sexual orientation, a world where there is freedom and equality for all as postulated by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights”
H.E. Mr. Jean-Marc Ayrault, Minister for Foreign Affairs of France, observed that France would continue to fight for human rights: mobilizing for gender equality, which must incite us to fight against other forms of discrimination as well, including those which date back to a long-gone age which are too often applied against LGBTI people.
H.E. Ms. Lenita Toivakka, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development, Finland, observed that this council has contributed greatly to the promotion of human rights.
H.E. Ms. Nilma Lino Gomes, Minister for Women, Racial Equality and Human Rights, Brazil observed that, Brazil has achieved important progress to guarantee the rights of the child, persons with disabilities, the elderly, as well as LGBTI persons.
H.E. Mr. Bert Koenders, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Netherlands, on behalf of The European Union observed that, attention to these country situations goes hand in hand with our commitment to advancing the rights, dignity, freedom and safety of each and every human being. We engage worldwide to advance the principles of non discrimination and equality, and condemn discrimination and violence based on any ground or status, including creed, race, sexual orientation and gender identity.
H.E. Mr. Jean Asselborn, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Luxembourg, observed that, he was particularly concerned about the tendency to criminalize sexual orientation in some countries. Anti-LGBT legislation is shocking and should be eliminated.
Ecuador observed that there was a need for decentralizing, expanding and strengthening functions and institutions with a view to ensuring access to participation of all citizens to the mechanisms of promotion and protection of their rights, with particular emphasis on promoting equality and social rights of those groups that have been historically discriminated such as women, children, the elderly (…) sexual minorities.
The Commonwealth observed that, this year’s Commonwealth theme is ‘An Inclusive Commonwealth’. The Commonwealth decried and rejected discrimination on the grounds of race, colour, gender, religious or political belief, language, and national or social origin. We acknowledge that discrimination against persons on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity remains widespread, most notably in the form of laws criminalizing homosexuality. Discrimination on any grounds has no place in the modern Commonwealth. Furthermore, the Commonwealth cannot be truly inclusive if criminalization of homosexuality and discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity are not addressed. This remains one of our most pressing human rights challenges and we will continue to work with our member states towards inclusiveness.
Ms. Alice Bah Kuhnke, Minister for Culture and Democracy, Sweden observed that the Swedish Government is especially concerned by three tendencies that I will address today: firstly, shrinking democratic space for journalists and civil society; secondly, gender inequalities, as well as continued opposition to sexual and reproductive health and rights; and finally, the human rights of persons in increased risk of vulnerability, such as persons belonging to minorities, LGBTI persons and migrants.
The distinguished representative of Fiji, observed that, we also guarantee freedom from discrimination on the ground of gender, or gender identity and expression, of marital status and pregnancy. Thus Fiji has displayed consciousness of the moving and developing nature of human rights.
Kristian Jensen, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Denmark, noted that many of the Human Rights Council’s thematic resolutions improved international standards, such as combatting religious intolerance, violence against women and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons. For Denmark, gender equality and the fight against torture and ill treatment were among the highest priorities.
Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Botswana, said that culture was often cited as a justification for violence against women and girls, and there was an urgent need for more public education on women’s empowerment measures and harmful cultural practices such as female genital mutilation. Sexual orientation and gender identity were still contentious issues in many developing countries, but that was not an excuse to condone violence against anyone.
Heraldo Muñoz, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Chile, said that his country’s priorities during its Council membership would be to protect the rights of discriminated persons, such as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons, women, children and adolescents, migrants, persons with disabilities, and indigenous peoples.
Lundeg Purevsuren, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Mongolia, stated that his country had made an enduring commitment to human rights when it embarked on the path of democracy 25 years ago and when in 1992 it had adopted its first democratic constitution. Mongolia had abolished the death penalty in law with the adoption of the revised Criminal Code. The revised Criminal Code’s definition of torture was brought into conformity with Article 1 of the Convention against Torture. Furthermore, the revised Criminal Code criminalized domestic violence, discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons, forced child labour and corporal punishment of children. It also decriminalized the acts of libel and defamation. During its membership in the Human Rights Council, Mongolia would focus on the following issues: gender equality, protecting the rights of women, children and persons with disabilities, fighting human trafficking, fighting racial and gender discrimination, abolishing the death penalty, promoting freedom of opinion and expression, and promoting freedom of assembly and association.
For further information on HRC31:
Arvind Narrain | Geneva Director
Kim Vance | Executive Director
All documents referenced in this Report can be found here.