GENERAL DEBATE ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE VIENNA DECLARATION AND PROGRAMME OF ACTION

Netherlands, on behalf of the European Union, underlined that the universal nature of human rights included the responsibility to ensure equality, non-discrimination and protection from violence for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons. At least 76 States retained laws used to criminalize and harass persons on the basis of sexual orientation. The European Union supported the draft resolution on the “Protection against violence and discrimination based on Sexual Orientation, and Gender Identity”.

United Kingdom strongly condemned acts of violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in all regions of the world, and stressed that, when that happened, the international community had an obligation to respond.  The United Kingdom welcomed the attention paid to those issues by the international human rights mechanisms, and urged the Council to continue to address human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Albania recalled the commitment the States had made to protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms in Vienna, and expressed concern about the persistent discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender equality, and the reprisals and persecution of journalists and civil society. Albania reiterated the universal value of human rights and its principles of equality, and stressed that the Council ought to be free to pursue the protection of human rights of all.

Portugal said that the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action had reaffirmed the principle of the universality of human rights. That had to include the universal protection of the human rights of sexual minorities and the combatting of discrimination and violence on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. Portugal supported the resolution on creating a special procedure mandate on the protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Slovenia strongly supported the draft resolution on the “Protection against violence and discrimination based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity”. Slovenia remained concerned about the shrinking civil society space in some countries, as well as cases of reprisals that posed serious challenges to the United Nations System. Lastly, Slovenia regretted that many countries still applied the death penalty, and urged all countries to ratify the Second Optional Protocol to the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

United States recalled that, on 12 June 2016, a terrorist had killed 49 people in an attack that targeted the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex community in Orlando, Florida, which had demonstrated that violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity was not unique to one country, region or culture. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons in every society in the world were entitled to the same human rights as all other people.

Pakistan believed that the work of the Council had to be guided by the principles of universality, impartiality and non-selectivity, and noted the many challenges to neutrality and effectiveness of the Council. Its agenda needed to respond to new challenges, resources for human rights mechanisms should keep up with their growth, and efforts had to be made to avoid duplications of the work with the Third Committee of the General Assembly.

Israel expressed condolences to the families of the victims of the attack in Orlando, and noted that the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action had recognized that all human rights derived from the dignity and worth inherent in the human person. Israel was at the forefront of the struggle to end violence and discrimination against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. The international community was called on to take concrete action to eradicate such discrimination worldwide.

Denmark said that same-sex marriages were legal in Denmark, but that the country would never presume being able to impose that right on other countries in the world. A resolution on the protection of the family which failed to recognize that families could take various forms could only be understood as an attempt to impose on Denmark what the sponsors of that resolution would never accept to be imposed on them.

Australian Human Rights Commission, in a joint statement, referred to states’ obligation to protect the rights of all persons, without discrimination, including on the ground of sexual orientation or gender identity. It highlighted the role of national human rights institutions in promoting all rights and combatting such discrimination. It called on the Human Rights Council to establish a mandate of an Independent Expert addressing violence and discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Action Canada for Population and Development underlined the importance of ensuring sexual and reproductive rights. Human rights related to sexuality addressed a wide range of issues, which intersected with other rights. The Council should ensure that all measures taken on sexual orientation and gender identity recognize and address the root causes of violence and discrimination and the multiple and intersecting forms of oppression of those grounds.

International Lesbian and Gay Association, on behalf of several NGOs, was concerned about individuals facing grave human rights violations on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity, including discrimination and violence. It called on the Council to address the protection gap those people faced through the creation of an Independent Expert to address discrimination and violence on the ground of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Alliance Defending Freedom said that, as there was no consensus on guaranteeing equal protection before the law and to prohibit discrimination on grounds of “sexual orientation and gender identity”, the issue should remain within the purview of each Member State’s domestic legal order. It was imperative that the international community promoted and protected the family as a unique and essential good for society.

Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik said that non-governmental organizations were still witnessing the violation of human rights of people on the basis of race, ethnicity, colour, sexual orientation, and other grounds. The non-governmental organization also spoke about the persecution of people in Iran, bring up a particular case of a prisoner of conscience who was suffering from cancer.

International Service for Human Rights said that the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action had reaffirmed that the principles of universality and non-discrimination were central to human rights. Human rights defenders working to protect the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons were subject to harassment, arbitrary arrest, and more. More than 500 non-governmental organizations had appealed to the Council to address that protection gap at the international level.

Swedish Federation of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights – RFSL, on behalf of several NGOs, said that the right to identity was one of the most basic human rights, and welcomed the laws enabling a quick gender recognition procedure based on self-declaration. The non-governmental organization urged the establishment of the mandate on the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons which would go a long way in raising the awareness of that situation.

Allied Rainbow Communities International said that, while the situation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons was critical in many places in Africa, it was worth noting recent positive developments. “We are proudly African and we are proudly LGBTI”, said the speaker, asking for African Governments to acknowledge the reality that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons were facing.

Federatie van Nederlandse Verenigingen tot Integratie van Homoseksualiteit – COC Nederland, in a joint statement with International Lesbian and Gay Association, appealed for an independent expert mandate. The region from which the speaker came from protected persons on the basis of their sexual orientation, and the Human Rights Council had a responsibility for promoting and protecting the human rights of all individuals. All human beings were born free and equal in all rights.