African states have launched a bid at the United Nations to halt the work of the first U.N. independent investigator appointed to help protect gay and transgender people worldwide from violence and discrimination.
The 47-member U.N. Human Rights Council created the position in June and in September appointed Vitit Muntarbhorn of Thailand for three years to investigate abuses against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people.
“We … call for the suspension of the activities of the appointed Independent Expert pending the determination of this issue,” Botswana’s U.N. Ambassador Charles Ntwaagae, speaking for the 54-member Africa group, told the committee. The group was concerned that “non-internationally agreed notions such as sexual orientation and gender identity are given attention, to the detriment of issues of paramount importance such as the right to development and the racism agenda.”
Ntwaagae said that sexual orientation and gender identity “are not and should not be linked to existing international human rights instruments.”
The UN does not have a great record on protecting our rights. In June a group of 51 Muslim states blocked 11 gay and transgender organizations from officially attending a high-level U.N. meeting on ending AIDS, which led to a protest by the United States, Canada and the European Union.