The logic underlying a resolution on sexual orientation and gender identity

The core group (Mexico, Uruguay, Chile, Argentina, Brazil and Colombia) announced at the organizational meeting of the 32nd Session of the Human Rights Council, the intention to take forward the conclusions of the 2015 High Commissioners Report on sexual orientation and gender identity. The High Commissioners Report of 2015 on SOGI had indicated that when it came to the question of sexual orientation and gender identity there was a protection gap which required a dedicated mechanism at the Human Rights Council.

Following the announcement at the organizational meeting, the Core group, which was previously the LAC 6, expanded to include Costa Rica, making it the LAC 7. The LAC 7 circulated a concept note that made the case for why an Independent Expert was required. The concept note referenced the previous report of the Office of the High Commissioner on SOGI which documented brutal violations on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity around the world and highlighted the inadequacy of current arrangements to protect individuals from violations on these grounds.

The Concept note then went on to argue that:

We are convinced that the scale, seriousness and widespread nature of violence and discrimination against individuals based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity requires a specific response from the Human Rights Council in the form of a dedicated mechanism.

The concept note also made clear that the inspiration for the proposed resolution remained the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action.

We recall that the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action indicates that ‘while the significance of national and regional particularities and various historical, cultural and religious backgrounds must be borne in mind, it is the duty of States regardless of their political, economic and cultural systems to promote and protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The balance articulated in the Vienna Declaration of taking into account national and regional particularities while remaining committed to universal human rights was reiterated in the concept note. The concept note then went on to make the case that the universal basis of the resolution lay in the fact that:

There is no country or region that has called for or has tolerance to violence or discrimination. There is no country or region that is opposed to dialogue. In fact, one hundred States from all regions of the world have made voluntary commitments to address violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the context of the Universal Periodic Review. More than two thirds of all States that received such recommendations accepted at least one (and often several) such recommendations, indicating that a majority of States welcome constructive dialogue and have made express commitment to address these human rights concerns.

The LAC 7 by circulating the concept note, sought to frame the issue of violence and discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity within the logic of universal human rights and also within the framework of the Council’s function to promote constructive dialogue.  As such, the LAC 7 sought to portray the resolution as drawing from international law and being based on an approach which eschewed conflict in favour of promoting dialogue.