During the 48th session of the Human Rights Council, civil society expressed concern and condemnation about an anti LGBTI bill in Ghana, while the second joint government statement on the rights of intersex persons was delivered on behalf of 52 States.
(Geneva) In a historic vote the UN Human Rights Council has created an Independent Expert dedicated to sexual orientation and gender identity issues. The expert will work to combat and prevent violence, hatred and discrimination.
The International Service for Human Rights’ programme manager, Pooja Patel, said the outcome was a fantastic win for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people all around the world.
‘This is a tremendous outcome and very timely. In all countries, in all regions, from Orlando to Bangladesh, LGBT people are subjected to hate and violence and it must be combatted at every level including at the UN,’ said Ms Patel.
During the epic three hour vote, the original resolution proposed jointly by the Governments of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico and Uruguay was watered down by a series of amendments led by regressive countries like Russia and members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation such as Pakistan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, which pledged not to cooperate with the Independent Expert. Ms Patel noted that non-cooperation with the Council’s mechanisms is fundamentally incompatible with Council membership.‘Universal human rights means all human rights for all people everywhere, so it’s regrettable that a number of hostile amendments adopted actually inserted discredited notions of cultural relativism into the text,’ said Ms Patel.
Despite these late attempts to scuttle the resolution with filibustering and obstructionist amendments, Ms Patel said common sense had prevailed with the majority of Council members voting to take a tangible step against homophobia.
‘The UN special expert will be able to identify violence and structural discrimination and work with LGBT people and governments around the world to develop strategies and legal standards to help ensure that all people can enjoy their fundamental human rights – regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity,’ said Ms Patel.
Related: The UN needs to appoint a special expert to defend LGBT rights globally – Opinion piece by Pooja Patel and Jacobus Witbooi.
LGBTQ communities in Namibia and those defending their rights remain targeted, suffering various forms of discrimination, stigmatisation and violence. It is time for the Namibian government to take action and decriminalise same-sex sexual relations, revise laws discriminating against, and take measures to address violence in, LGBT communities.
This week in an online event, 10 candidate States publicly spoke to an audience of around 200 people on their pledges as incoming Human Rights Council members for 2022 – 2024. They also faced questions on pressing human rights issues from both States and civil society organisations.
In the first case on violence against trans people heard by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the Court held Honduras responsible for the transfemicide of human rights defender Vicky Hernández.
ISHR, along with 23 organisations, highlight attacks and targeting of trans and gender diverse defenders; the Independent Expert on SOGI examines the construction of gender in international law, a Group of Friends of the mandate of the Independent Expert is formed; and 27 States call on the Council to urgently protect the human rights of trans people.
10 years after the first SOGI resolution was passed at the Council, 27 States launch the Group of Friends of the mandate of the UN Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Tess McEvoy from ISHR and Gabriel Galil from ILGA World tell the story.
It's difficult to encapsulate such a complex year in a word, but "interconnected" is one that comes to mind when reflecting on 2020. We are proud to have remained deeply interconnected with defenders and to have supported, protected and amplified their work at the national, regional and international levels. With them, the "essential workers" of our times, we strive for a 2021 full of freedom, equality, dignity and justice.
Operating in a context of persistent insecurity and aggravated by the Covid19 crisis, human rights defenders in Burkina Faso are exposed to many risks. The law on the protection of defenders and its implementing decree were adopted in 2018, but its implementation and use remain a challenge for defenders.
In a context where Egyptian police routinely prosecute and arrest LGBTIQ+ people by using fabricated charges such as “immorality”, “incitement to immorality”, “misuse of social media” and “belonging to terrorist groups”, ISHR joined human rights organisations in calling on the Egyptian government to immediately stop arresting or detaining individuals based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. No one should face discrimination, intimidation or imprisonment because of their sexual orientation or gender identity; and to ensure a safe and enabling environment for civil society organisations to work freely to serve this community.
According to Articles 23 (3) and 72 of the Rules of Procedure of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, each Commissioner must present an activity report detailing activities undertaken in relation to their mandates. Following the presentation of the report of the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders in Africa, ISHR delivered a statement highlighting the violations and reprisals faced by human rights defenders on the continent.
Niger is one of the few States in Africa to fulfill its reporting obligations to the African Commission on time. In that regard, the Republic of Niger, after its previous review in 2017, submitted its 15th Periodic Reports covering the period 2017-2019. The report presents the progress made by the country regarding the state of human rights in Niger.
The Covid-19 pandemic has had a considerable impact on human rights and fundamental freedoms in general. However, many countries in Central and West Africa had to hold elections during the pandemic period. How were the elections organised during this period and what was the impact of Covid-19 on the conduct of the elections?