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United Nations SOGI Mandate Safeguarded in Face of Hostility
From a press release
2016-11-23

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21 November 2016 ( New York ) — The United Nations mandate of the Independent Expert on sexual orientation and gender identity ( SOGI ) has been safeguarded despite hostile contestation at the 71st Session of the 3rd Committee of the United Nations General Assembly ( UNGA ) in New York City.

LGBTIQ activists and organizations around the world quickly mobilized to voice their concerns on the implications of the hostile resolution to national governments as well as at the United Nations headquarters in New York. A joint statement endorsed by 850 organizations from 157 countries around the world, highlighted the need for states to respect the authority of the Human Rights Council and to vote in favour of upholding the SOGI Independent Expert mandate.

"A lot can be accomplished when forces join hands. We are encouraged by this voting result and in the confirmation that States believe in the mechanisms of the Human Rights Council. It is vital that the integrity of the Human Rights Council remains intact and is not further undermined in the Third Committee," stated Jessica Stern, Executive Director, OutRight Action International, the only US based LGBTIQ organization with consultative status at the United Nations."

The SOGI Independent Expert position on the "Protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation, and gender identity ( SOGI )," was mandated by the passing of a historic resolution A/HRC/RES/32/2 on June 30 of this year, and is held by Vitit Muntarbhorn, a human rights expert from Thailand. A campaign of 628 nongovernmental organizations from 151 countries advocated for the adoption of the resolution and for the establishment of the position.

In early November, Botswana, on behalf of the African Group, presented a hostile resolution on the Human Rights Council Annual Report, specifically targeting the SOGI Independent Expert Mandate. The resolution contested the legality of the creation of the mandate, essentially arguing that SOGI are not universally recognized as human rights and are not codified in international law. The resolution called for an indefinite postponement of the mandate until consensus could be reached on the definition of SOGI and the legal basis to which the mandate was created, the African Group statement read,

"We are alarmed that the Council is delving into matters which fall essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of States counter to the commitment in the United Nations Charter to respect the sovereignty of States and the principle of non-intervention. More importantly, it arises owing to the ominous usage of the two notions: sexual orientation and gender identity. We wish to state that those two notions are not and should not be linked to existing international human rights instruments."

In response to the African Group resolution, submitted by Botswana, Monica Tabengwa, Botswana human rights activist and director of Pan Africa ILGA commented,

"We are deeply disappointed that Botswana led this fallacious move by the Africa Group to remove gains at the HRC to include SOGI protections within the existing human rights framework. Let us remind everyone that the SOGI mandate is about real people and their right to secure lives, to be free of violence and discrimination and that these lives can't be postponed or deferred indefinitely. We deserve more from our governments."

The SOGI Independent Expert was created after adoption of a resolution in the Human Rights Council in June 2016, initiated by seven Latin American countries, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico and Uruguay. They, plus El Salvador ( LAC 8 ), countered the African Group's attempt to postpone the mandate by introducing an amendment to the resolution deleting the hostile paragraph.

An explanatory note provided by the eight Latin American countries on their submitted amendment in support of preserving the SOGI mandate and the integrity of the HRC reads,

"The seriousness of the consequences ( ... ) lies in the fact that never before has a country or group of countries attempted to challenge a special procedures mandate by the Human Rights Council with an appointed and fully functioning mandate holder. ( ... ) If the General Assembly reopens the Council's annual report and use a selective approach to which resolution it seeks to block or defer indefinitely it would fundamentally undermine the authority granted to the Council by the General Assembly, thus having far reaching implications well beyond the specific resolution under consideration."

While all 193 countries in the UN General Assembly had the right to vote, only 178 exercised their vote, resulting in the passing of the LAC 8 amendment, leading to the failure of the hostile resolution and dissipation of the immediate threat against the establishment of the SOGI Independent Expert. In total, 84 countries voted in favor of the LAC 8 amendment, 77 voted against the amendment, and 17 countries abstained from voting.

LGBTIQ civil society in the Asia and the Pacific region have vocalized their support for the SOGI Independent Expert, hoping that a representative from the region would help progress protections for people of diverse sexual orientation and gender identity. In response to the voting, Ryan Silverio, Regional Coordinator for the ASEAN SOGIE Caucus said,

"Today we are reminded of the fundamental mission of the Council, and the UN's commitment to promote human rights and equality for all. We are encouraged by the open dialogue with ASEAN member states in the lead up of the vote, and are particularly thankful to Thailand for showing leadership to protecting this mandate,"

The failure of the proposed hostile resolution is significant not only because it reinstates the authority of the Human Rights Council, but it also allows forward movement on the work of the SOGI Independent Expert- a crucial stride in the UN's commitment towards protecting the universality of human rights, especially for vulnerable communities. It reinforces the notion that people cannot be left behind and states must protect all people from discrimination and violence based on their SOGI.

"The SOGI Independent Expert position is vital in bringing to light the horrific acts of violence and discrimination many people face because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. These abuses happen everywhere; no region or country is immune to them. Having concrete documentation showing the consequences of homophobia and transphobia on the lives of people and recommendations on how to address these challenges from an HRC Special Procedure mandate holder will help states take responsibility to protect LGBTIQ persons. It will be much harder to ignore the facts," commented Micah Grzywnowicz, trans activist and international advocacy advisor at RFSL, the Swedish Federation for LGBTIQ Rights."

While the hostile resolution did not pass today, civil society has warned that future attempts to stop the progress of the SOGI Independent Expert are not out of the question.

The Expert will be tasked with assessing implementation of existing international human rights law, identifying best practices and gaps, raising awareness of violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, engaging in dialogue and consultation with States and other stakeholders, and facilitating provision of advisory services, technical assistance, capacity-building and cooperation to help address violence and discrimination on these grounds.

"As always, the fight continues to ensure that States don't cherry pick which human rights to protect. We must continue to be vigilant and to mobilize to ensure that universality and non-discrimination triumphs at all levels. We must also ensure that we are working together to create change which will benefit all LGBTIQ people. Safeguarding human rights principles remains prime to peace and security for all people everywhere, anytime," said Steve Letsike, Director of Access Chapter 2, a South African LGBTIQ human rights organization."

Press contacts:

Access Chapter 2, Steve Letsike, +27 12 430 3272, info@ac2.org .za

AIDES, Nicolas DENIS, ndenis@aides.org +33625742384

Amnesty International, Jane Connors, jane.connors@amnesty.org, +41 79 199 2686

ARC International, Kim Vance, +1 ( 902 ) 488-6404, kim@arc-international.net

ARTICLE 19, Andrew Smith, +44 ( 0 ) 20 7324 2500, andrew@article19.org

ASEAN SOGIE Caucus ( ASC ) - Ryan Silverio, +63917-8797710, rsilverio@aseansogiecaucus.org

AsociaciÃ"n Internacional de lesbianas, gays, bisexuales, trans e intersex para América Latina y el Caribe. Pedro Paradiso Sottile, Director Ejecutivo ILGA LAC +5491168793695, director@ilga-lac.org

COC Netherlands, Joyce Hamilton, +31 6 14 99 59 72, jhamilton@coc.nl

The Danish National Organization for Gay Men, Lesbians, Bisexuals and Transgender persons - Karoline Barkvoll Holstad, karoline@lgbt.dk +4542764993

Diverse Voices and Action ( DIVA ) for Equality, Fiji, Noelene Nabulivou, noelenen@gmail.com

Egale Canada Human Rights Trust, Helen Kennedy, +1 416-270-1999

Foundation for SOGI Rights and Justice, Thailand: Paisarn Likhitpreechakul,+66 81 634 3450, asiantrekker@yahoo.com

FRI - The Norwegian Organisation for Sexual and Gender Diversity: Marna Eide +47 91616091

Human Rights First, Shawn Gaylord, +1 202-270-2956, gaylords@humanrightsfirst.org

Human Rights Watch: Boris Dittrich + 1 917 535 3863 ditrib@hrw.org or John Fisher +41-79-508-3968 fisherj@hrw.org

International Commission of Jurists

International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association ( ILGA ) - André du Plessis andre@ilga.org +41796781229

Iranti-org, Joshua Sehoole, +27 81 008 7402, sehoole@iranti-org.ca.za

Isikeli Vulavou, Pacific Sexual Diversity Network, psdn.secretariat@gmail.com

Isikeli Vulavou, Rainbow Pride Foundation, Suva, Fiji, executivedirector.rpf@gmail.com

MantiQitna Network : Yahia Zaidi +32471661280, yahia.zaidi@gmail.com

OutRight Action International, Rashima Kwatra, +1 ( 917 ) 859-7555, rkwatra@outrightinternational.org

Pan Africa ILGA: Monica Tabengwa +267 71237973/+27 767958245 monica@panafricailga.org

RFSL, the Swedish Federation for LGBTQ Rights, Kajsa Bornedal, +46 761 73 19 59, kajsa.bornedal@rfsl.se .

COMUNICADO DE PRENSA PARA DIFUNDIR INMEDIATAMENTE

El mandato SOGI ha sido salvaguardado de la hostilidad

21 DE NOVIEMBRE DE 2016 ( Nueva York ) — El mandato de las Naciones Unidas del Experto Independiente sobre la orientaciÃ"n sexual y la identidad de género ( SOGI por sus siglas en inglés ) ha sido salvaguardado a pesar de la contestaciÃ"n hostil en la 71ª sesiÃ"n de la Tercera ComisiÃ"n de la Asamblea General de las Naciones Unidas Nueva York.

"Se puede lograr mucho cuando las fuerzas se unen. Nos alienta este resultado de la votaciÃ"n y la confirmaciÃ"n de que los Estados creen en los mecanismos del Consejo de Derechos Humanos. Es vital que la integridad del Consejo de Derechos Humanos permanezca intacta y no se socave más en la Tercera ComisiÃ"n", declarÃ" Jessica Stern, Directora Ejecutiva de OutRight Action International, la única organizaciÃ"n estadounidense LGBTIQ con status consultivo en las Naciones Unidas."

Les defensores de derechos humanos y organizaciones LGBTIQ de todo el mundo rápidamente se movilizaron para expresar sus preocupaciones sobre las implicaciones de la resoluciÃ"n hostil y hablaron con sus gobiernos nacionales, así como con la sede las Naciones Unidas en Nueva York. Una declaraciÃ"n conjunta apoyada por 850 organizaciones de 157 países, señalÃ" y resaltÃ" la importancia del respeto de la autoridad que tiene el Consejo de Derechos humanos y solicitÃ" votar a favor de la enmienda propuesta para mantener el mandato del Experto Independiente SOGI.

La posiciÃ"n del Experto Independiente SOGI sobre la 'ProtecciÃ"n contra la violencia y la discriminaciÃ"n basada en la orientaciÃ"n sexual y la identidad de género ( SOGI )" fue encomendada mediante la aprobaciÃ"n de una resoluciÃ"n histÃ"rica la A/HRC/RES/32/2 el 30 de junio de este año, y el mandato es representado por Vitit Muntarbhorn, un experto de los derechos humanos de Tailandia. Una campaña hecha por 628 organizaciones no gubernamentales de 151 países que abogÃ" por la adopciÃ"n de la resoluciÃ"n y por el establecimiento del mandato.

A principios de noviembre, Botsuana, en nombre del Grupo Africano, presentÃ" una resoluciÃ"n hostil sobre el Informe Anual del Consejo de Derechos Humanos, dirigida específicamente al mandato del experto independiente SOGI. La resoluciÃ"n impugnÃ" la legalidad de la creaciÃ"n del mandato, argumentando esencialmente que la orientaciÃ"n sexual y la identidad de género no están universalmente reconocidas como derechos humanos y no están codificadas en el derecho internacional. En la resoluciÃ"n se pedía el aplazamiento del mandato hasta que se llegara a un consenso sobre la definiciÃ"n de SOGI y la base jurídica con la que se había creado el mandato.

"Estamos alarmados de que el Consejo profundice en cuestiones que corresponden esencialmente a la jurisdicciÃ"n interna de los Estados, contrarias al compromiso de la Carta de las Naciones Unidas de respetar la soberanía de los Estados y el principio de no intervenciÃ"n. Más importante es el uso siniestro de las dos nociones: la orientaciÃ"n sexual y la identidad de género. Queremos señalar que esas dos nociones no están ni deben estar vinculadas a los instrumentos internacionales de derechos humanos existentes."

En respuesta a la resoluciÃ"n del Grupo Africano presentada por Botsuana, Monica Tabengwa, activista de derechos humanos de Botsuana y directora de Pan África ILGA, comentÃ":

"Estamos profundamente decepcionados por el hecho de que Botsuana haya llevado a cabo este movimiento del Grupo Africano que buscaba eliminar el hecho de que el CDH incluyera la protecciÃ"n a la SOGI dentro del marco de derechos humanos existente. Recordemos a todos que el mandato SOGI es sobre personas reales y su derecho a asegurar vidas, a estar libres de violencia y discriminaciÃ"n y que estas vidas no pueden posponerse ni aplazarse indefinidamente. Merecemos más de nuestros gobiernos."

El Experto Independiente de SOGI fue creado tras la adopciÃ"n de una resoluciÃ"n en el Consejo de Derechos Humanos en junio de 2016, iniciada por siete países de América Latina, Argentina, Brasil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, México y Uruguay. Estos países, además de El Salvador, contrarrestaron el intento del Grupo Africano de aplazar el mandato mediante la introducciÃ"n de una enmienda a la resoluciÃ"n que suprime el párrafo hostil.

Una nota explicativa de los ocho países latino americanos sobre la enmienda presentada en apoyo a la preservaciÃ"n del mandato SOGI y la integridad del Consejo de Derechos Humanos.

"La gravedad de las consecuencias ( ... ) reside en el hecho de que nunca antes un país o grupo de países ha intentado desafiar a un mandato especial de los procedimientos realizados por parte del Consejo de Derechos Humanos cuando ya hay un titular de mandato equipado y en pleno funcionamiento ( … ) Si la Asamblea General vuelve a abrir el informe anual del Consejo y el uso de un enfoque selectivo al cual esta resoluciÃ"n busca hacerlo por medio del bloqueo o aplazamiento indefinido esto socavaría fundamentalmente la autorizaciÃ"n otorgada al Consejo por la Asamblea General, lo que tiene implicaciones de largo alcance, incluso más allá de la resoluciÃ"n específica que está bajo consideraciÃ"n."

Mientras que los 193 países de la Asamblea General de la ONU tenían el derecho al voto, solamente 178 ejercieron su voto, lo que resulta en el fracaso de la resoluciÃ"n hostil y la disipaciÃ"n de la amenaza inmediata contra el establecimiento del experto independiente en temas SOGI. Sobre la enmienda propuesta por el LAC8, En 77 países, votaron en contra de la resoluciÃ"n, y 84 a favor de la resoluciÃ"n, y 17 se abstuvieron. Si: 84 No: 77 AbstenciÃ"n: 11, y la resoluciÃ"n final con la enmienda del LAC8 fue aprobada por 94 votos a favor.

La sociedad civil LGBTIQ en la regiÃ"n de Asia y el Pacífico han vocalizado su apoyo al experto independiente SOGI, con la esperanza de que un representante de la regiÃ"n ayudará a la protecciÃ"n y al progreso de las personas que tienen una orientaciÃ"n sexual e identidad de género diversa. En respuesta a la votaciÃ"n Ryan Silverio, Coordinador Regional del ASEAN SOGIE Caucus, dijo:

"Hoy se nos recuerda la misiÃ"n fundamental del Consejo y el compromiso de la ONU de promover los derechos humanos y la igualdad para todos. Nos sentimos alentados por el diálogo abierto con los Estados miembros de la ASEAN en el momento de la votaciÃ"n, y estamos especialmente agradecidos con Tailandia por mostrar su liderazgo en la protecciÃ"n de este mandato."

El fracaso de la propuesta de resoluciÃ"n hostil es significativo, no solo porque restablece la autoridad del Consejo de Derechos Humanos, sino que también permite avanzar en el trabajo del Experto Independiente SOGI, un paso crucial en el compromiso de la ONU de proteger la universalidad de los derechos humanos, especialmente para las comunidades vulnerables. Refuerza la nociÃ"n de que la gente no puede ser dejada atrás y los Estados deben proteger a todas las personas de la discriminaciÃ"n y violencia basada en su orientaciÃ"n sexual e identidad de género.

"La posiciÃ"n del Experto Independiente SOGI es vital para sacar a la luz los horribles actos de violencia y discriminaciÃ"n que muchas personas enfrentan debido a su orientaciÃ"n sexual o identidad de género. Estos abusos ocurren en todas partes; ninguna regiÃ"n o país es inmune a ellos. Tener una documentaciÃ"n concreta que muestre las consecuencias de la homofobia y la transfobia en las vidas de las personas y recomendaciones sobre cÃ"mo abordar estos desafíos ayudará a los Estados a asumir la responsabilidad de proteger a las personas LGBTIQ. Será mucho más difícil ignorar los hechos", comentÃ" Micah Grzywnowicz, activista trans y consejera de defensa internacional en RFSL, la FederaciÃ"n Sueca de Derechos LGBTIQ."

Mientras que la resoluciÃ"n hostil no pasÃ" hoy, la sociedad civil ha advertido que los intentos futuros de detener el progreso del Experto Independiente no están fuera de la cuestiÃ"n.

Se encargará al Experto que evalúe la aplicaciÃ"n de la legislaciÃ"n internacional en materia de derechos humanos, identifique las mejores prácticas y los vacíos existentes, sensibilice sobre la violencia y la discriminaciÃ"n basada en la orientaciÃ"n sexual y la identidad de género, entable diálogo y la consulta con los Estados y otras partes interesadas y facilite la prestaciÃ"n de servicios: servicios de asesoramiento, asistencia técnica, creaciÃ"n de capacidad y cooperaciÃ"n para ayudar a combatir la violencia y la discriminaciÃ"n por estos motivos.

"Como siempre, la lucha continua para asegurar que los Estados no escogen qué derechos humanos proteger. Debemos seguir vigilando y movilizarnos para garantizar que la universalidad y la no discriminaciÃ"n triunfen en todos los niveles. También debemos asegurarnos de que estamos trabajando juntos para crear un cambio que beneficie a todas las personas LGBTIQ. La salvaguardia de los principios de derechos humanos sigue siendo primordial para la paz y la seguridad de todas las personas en todo el mundo, en cualquier momento", dijo Steve Letsike, Director de Access Chapter 2, una organizaciÃ"n sudafricana de derechos humanos LGBTIQ."

Contactos de prensa:

Access Chapter 2, Steve Letsike, +27 12 430 3272, info@ac2.org .za

AIDES, Nicolas DENIS, ndenis@aides.org +33625742384

Amnesty International, Jane Connors, jane.connors@amnesty.org, +41 79 199 2686

ARC International, Kim Vance, +1 ( 902 ) 488-6404, kim@arc-international.net

ARTICLE 19, Andrew Smith, +44 ( 0 ) 20 7324 2500, andrew@article19.org

ASEAN SOGIE Caucus ( ASC ) - Ryan Silverio, +63917-8797710, rsilverio@aseansogiecaucus.org

AsociaciÃ"n Internacional de lesbianas, gays, bisexuales, trans e intersex para América Latina y el Caribe. Pedro Paradiso Sottile, Director Ejecutivo ILGA LAC +5491168793695, director@ilga-lac.org

COC Netherlands, Joyce Hamilton, +31 6 14 99 59 72, jhamilton@coc.nl

The Danish National Organization for Gay Men, Lesbians, Bisexuals and Transgender persons - Karoline Barkvoll Holstad, karoline@lgbt.dk +4542764993

Diverse Voices and Action ( DIVA ) for Equality, Fiji, Noelene Nabulivou, noelenen@gmail.com

Egale Canada Human Rights Trust, Helen Kennedy, +1 416-270-1999

Foundation for SOGI Rights and Justice, Thailand: Paisarn Likhitpreechakul,+66 81 634 3450, asiantrekker@yahoo.com

FRI - The Norwegian Organisation for Sexual and Gender Diversity: Marna Eide +47 91616091

Human Rights First, Shawn Gaylord, +1 202-270-2956, gaylords@humanrightsfirst.org

Human Rights Watch: Boris Dittrich + 1 917 535 3863 ditrib@hrw.org or John Fisher +41-79-508-3968 fisherj@hrw.org

International Commission of Jurists

International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association ( ILGA ) - André du Plessis andre@ilga.org +41796781229

Iranti-org, Joshua Sehoole, +27 81 008 7402, sehoole@iranti-org.ca.za

Isikeli Vulavou, Pacific Sexual Diversity Network, psdn.secretariat@gmail.com

Isikeli Vulavou, Rainbow Pride Foundation, Suva, Fiji, executivedirector.rpf@gmail.com

MantiQitna Network : Yahia Zaidi +32471661280, yahia.zaidi@gmail.com

OutRight Action International, Rashima Kwatra, +1 ( 917 ) 859-7555, rkwatra@outrightinternational.org

Pan Africa ILGA: Monica Tabengwa +267 71237973/+27 767958245 monica@panafricailga.org

RFSL, the Swedish Federation for LGBTQ Rights, Kajsa Bornedal, +46 761 73 19 59, kajsa.bornedal@rfsl.se


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