The International Service for Human Rights alongside 19 other organisations co-signed a statement to underline their disapproval of the rejection by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights of the applications for observer status of three human rights organisations during its 73rd ordinary session.
In 2016 when the mandate was created, an amendment challenging it was tabled at the Third Committee. This year, a record-high number of States supported the renewal of the mandate at the Human Rights Council in July, and the mandate was not challenged in the Third Committee. This is a clear indication that the international community is becoming both more aware and less tolerant of violence and discrimination on the basis of SOGI.
‘The tireless, sustained outreach efforts of civil society from the grassroots up was essential to this achievement,’ explains Nepali human rights defender Manisha Dhakal from Blue Diamond Society. ‘Over many years, we have worked together to build a truly global movement that queered the UN.’
1,312 non-governmental organisations from 174 States and territories campaigned for a renewal of the IE SOGI mandate. While the mandate was not challenged today, civil society will remain vigilant to any future attempts to undermine the crucial work of the Independent Expert.
Since 2016, through the work of this mandate, the international community has become increasingly aware of the devastating impact of the criminalisation of same-sex relations and the lack of legal gender recognition, but also of the importance of data-collection specific to LGBT communities, and of how hatred against LGBT people is hindering their full participation in society.
‘It was not long ago that the words ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘gender identity’ could not even be uttered at the UN. The lack of challenge here today is another significant step in the fight against violence and discrimination against LGBT persons,’ said ISHR’s Tess McEvoy. ‘This mandate is plays a crucial role in bringing voices from the ground to the UN – voices that need to be heard,’ added ISHR’s Helen Nolan.
Civil society looks forward to the future activities of the expert. Victor Madrigal-Borloz is set to visit Sri Lanka in 2020 and has tabled 12 requests for as many country visits. We encourage all governments to cooperate fully with the UN Independent Expert on SOGI and contribute to bringing about a world free from violence and discrimination for all people, regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity.
‘While the mandate was created in a context of controversy, it has proven its importance and legitimacy through its work,’ says Algerian human rights defender Yahia Zaidi of MantiQitna. ‘In every country around the world, there are steps that can be taken to make communities safer and more inclusive for LGBT persons. The Independent Expert helps to make us visible, and to keep our communities moving forward.’
Two days before the arrival of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to Venezuela, the National Assembly held a first reading of a draft law that, if passed, would criminalise the work of defenders, further shrinking the space they have to operate. States must speak up for human rights defenders and against this initiative!
As protests continue across Peru and at least 50 lie dead, States have called on Peru to stop the use of excessive force to quell unrest and to respect the rights of those exercising fundamental freedoms.