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Council establishes mandate on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity

AFTERNOON
 

The Human Rights Council this afternoon decided to appoint, for a period of three years, an Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.  It also adopted a resolution on youth and human rights.

Adopted by a vote of 23 in favour, 18 against and 6 abstentions, the resolution said the mandate of the Independent Expert would be to assess the implementation of existing international human rights instruments with regard to ways to overcome violence and discrimination against persons on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and to identify and address the root causes of violence and discrimination.

The Council also decided to convene a panel discussion on the theme, “Youth and human rights” at its thirty-third session to identify challenges, best practices and lessons learned in the exercise of human rights by young people.

Introducing draft texts were El Salvador, Republic of Moldova, Portugal, Chile, Uruguay, Brazil, Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation with the exception of Albania, and Mexico.

Speaking in general comments were the Netherlands on behalf of the European Union, Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom, Maldives, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates.

Speaking in explanation of the vote before or after the vote were Mexico, Slovenia, Switzerland, Germany, Panama, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Russia, Philippines, South Africa, Botswana, Nigeria, Viet Nam, Indonesia, Albania, France, Morocco, Algeria, Ghana, and Namibia.

Saudi Arabia called for a no-action motion on the draft resolution on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in accordance with Rule 116.  Mexico and Panama spoke against the motion, while Bangladesh and Nigeria on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, with the exception of Albania, spoke in favour of the motion.  The Council also took action on a series of draft amendments relating to the draft resolution.

The Human Rights Council will continue taking action on draft resolutions and decisions at 7 p.m. this evening.

Action on Resolutions under the Agenda Item on the Promotion and Protection of All Human Rights, Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, including the Right to Development
 
Action on Resolution on Youth and Human Rights

In a resolution (A/HRC/32/L.1) on youth and human rights, adopted without a vote, the Council decides to convene at its thirty-third session a panel discussion on the theme, “Youth and human rights”, the objective of which will be to identify challenges, best practices and lessons learned in the exercise of human rights by young people, as well as relevant opportunities for the empowerment of youth in the exercise of their rights.

El Salvador, introducing draft resolution L.1 on youth and human rights, thanked the many co-sponsors, and said that the adoption of this first-ever resolution on youth would be a historical landmark by the Council.  Youth had to be considered part of the proactive machinery of a country, and measures had to be taken to ensure their rights and their participation in development efforts and conflict prevention.  However, they were often treated as a threat and a source of problems, and were marginalized politically.  Lack of access to opportunities and to quality education, including human rights education, had a negative effect on youth, and made the youth more affected by extremism.

Portugal, also introducing draft resolution L.1, said that the text struck a balance and reiterated commitment to continue to engage constructively to ensure the enjoyment of human rights by youth.

Republic of Moldova, also introducing draft resolution L.1 on youth and human rights, recalled that the global youth population had reached a historic high and had strong potential to transform economies and shape societies.  Youth, however, faced many challenges in realizing their economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights.  This draft resolution sought to explore both the challenges and good practices in exercising the rights of young people, in synergy with the General Assembly biennial resolution on policies and programmes involving youth.  The panel to be organized during the next Human Rights Council session would bring a valuable opportunity to initiate reflection on this issue, with a view to contribute to unlocking the full potential youth. 

Action on Resolution on Protection against Violence and Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
 
In a resolution (A/HRC/32/L.2/Rev.1) on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, adopted by a vote of 23 in favour, 18 against and 6 abstentions as amended, the Council decides to appoint, for a period of three years, an Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, with the mandate to assess the implementation of existing international human rights instruments with regard to ways to overcome violence and discrimination against persons on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity; raise awareness of violence and discrimination against persons on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and to identify and address the root causes of violence and discrimination; and engage in dialogue and to consult with States and other relevant stakeholders.  The Council also requests the Independent Expert to report annually to the Human Rights Council, starting from its thirty-fifth session, and to the General Assembly, starting from its seventy-second session.

The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (23): Albania, Belgium, Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, France, Georgia, Germany, Latvia, Mexico, Mongolia, Netherlands, Panama, Paraguay, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Slovenia, Switzerland, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, United Kingdom, Venezuela and Viet Nam.

Against
(18): Algeria, Bangladesh, Burundi, China, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Maldives, Morocco, Nigeria, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Togo and United Arab Emirates.

Abstentions
(6): Botswana, Ghana, India, Namibia, Philippines and South Africa.


Chile, introducing draft resolution L.2/Rev.1 on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, recalled that to date the Council had already endorsed this issue through two resolutions.  The High Commissioner had issued a report underscoring the need for a mechanism focusing specifically and comprehensively on this matter.  The resolution aimed to fill this gap. 

Uruguay, also introducing draft resolution L.2/Rev.1, said that this type of violence required a specific response from the Council, which was why the resolution established a new mandate.  The Council was already dealing with many types of violence and discrimination, and now needed to fill the gap and ensure the protection against violence and discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation and gender identity. 

Brazil, also introducing draft resolution L.2/Rev.1, said that this initiative sought to promote much needed dialogue to put an end to violence and discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation and gender identity, on the basis of international human rights instruments and the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action.  The draft resolution had been translated in all official languages of the United Nations, and broad consultations had been conducted.  Brazil called on all delegations to vote in favour of this text, and in favour of leaving no one behind. 

Action on No-Action Motion

Saudi Arabia took the floor on a point of order to request a no-action motion, saying this was a last attempt to make co-sponsors understand the consequences of this deeply divisive proposal that failed to recognize cultural differences.  The draft was contrary to international human rights law and would disregard the universality of human rights, Saudi Arabia said, calling on the main co-sponsors to reconsider the consideration of this draft resolution.

The President said he would give the floor to two speakers for the no-action motion and two speakers against it.

Mexico, taking the floor, on L.2/Rev.1, said that it opposed categorically the non-action motion and asked that it be put to a vote.  Mexico deplored countries which took refuge behind a procedural rule to prevent the Human Rights Council from speaking on an initiative.  It was the responsibility of the Council to openly address those situations which undermined human rights around the world.  The international community might have diverging points of view, but closing the dialogue should not be an option to hinder progress on human rights protection.  The no-action motion made it impossible for the Council to address those issues.  Voting for the motion was tantamount to avoiding the responsibility that States had accepted when they became members of the Council and it would ignore the suffering of thousands.  All were encouraged to reaffirm their support for the mechanisms of the body they had decided to be a part of.  Mexico called for the motion to be rejected.

Panama rejected the no-action motion and said that it was clear that what was sought was an escape route.  It was imperative that the Council addressed all forms of violence and discrimination against people.  All were called on to vote against the no-action motion.

Bangladesh expressed support for the proposal made by Saudi Arabia.

Nigeria took the floor on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, with the exception of Albania, and spoke in favour of the no-action motion on draft resolution L.2 as requested by Saudi Arabia.  The Organization of Islamic Cooperation believed that the draft resolution L.2 was divisive and was concerned that the lack of definitions of sexual orientation and gender identity and the attached human rights and fundamental freedoms carried certain responsibility for States.  The controversial views of those issues could not be imposed by some Member States.  The adoption of the resolution would ensure that the attention on sexual orientation and gender identity issues as seen by the Western States would take root in the United Nations, without taking into account the views of a large number of States.   The draft resolution was highly divisive and would create rancour within the Council which now should be focusing on its core agenda.

The Council rejected the no-action motion by a vote of 15 in favour, 22 against and nine abstentions.

Action on Draft Amendments L.71 to L.81

Pakistan, speaking on behalf of the Member States of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation except Albania, introduced amendments L.71 to L.81 to draft resolution L.2/Rev.1, saying they strongly condemned any forms of violence and discrimination against any individual or group, as illustrated by the commitments of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation against racism and discrimination and in favour of the right to development.  The Member States of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, except Albania, disagreed with the content and concept of this resolution, and would not be able to support the appointment of an Independent Expert on this issue.  The Council had to respect each culture and its particularities.  This draft would further polarize the work of the Council, and should therefore be avoided.  The Member States of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, except Albania, were therefore introducing amendments L.71 to L.81, which aimed to align the text with universally agreed language, carefully crafted on the basis of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  Amendments also highlighted the need to respect cultural, religious and traditional values, while underscoring the negative effects of imposing values on others.  The amendments also replaced the creation of the mandate with a request that the High Commissioner prepare a report on violence and discrimination on grounds recognized within the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.  The Organization of Islamic Cooperation, except Albania, requested that these amendments were voted on in four packages: first on L.71, L.72 and L.80, second on L.73, L.74, L.76, L.77 and L.79, third on L.78, and fourth on L.81.  The Organization called on all Member States to vote in favour of these amendments. 

Mexico said that the main sponsors of the resolution did not support the amendments and would call for a vote on them.  Mexico formally requested that all amendments were voted on individually, one by one.  Delegations had requested instructions from capitals one by one, and voting amendments in packages might lead to an environment of a lack of clarity and misleading results.  The sponsors should present the amendments individually and not as packages when they had the opportunity.

The Council decided to vote on the amendments one by one.

Netherlands, speaking in a general comment on behalf of the European Union, said the concept note on the establishment of the Independent Expert had been much appreciated.  Civil society organizations had made it clear that the issue needed to be addressed globally.  All societies, including the European Union, faced challenges on this issue.  The European Union would support L.2/Rev.1.

Saudi Arabia, speaking in a general comment, said that the universality of human rights did not mean the imposition of certain so-called human rights concepts or ideas imposed from the point of view of another party, when those ran counter to some beliefs and specificities.  Protecting the universality of human rights should not go beyond the main framework of human rights and be used to interfere in the affairs of sovereign States.  The draft resolution imposed a specific notion that ran counter to religions.  Saudi Arabia would not compromise or barter man-made legislation against divine laws.  Islam knew the true meaning of human rights.  The international community had to refrain from using the Council to interfere in the affairs of other sovereign States.  Such resolutions would compromise the functioning of the Council.  All were called on to vote yes for the amendments.

United Kingdom, speaking in a general comment, said that the resolution would create a mandate to counter violence and discrimination and that a vote against it was a vote against the spirit of this Council.  The United Kingdom noted that cultural and religious reasons were often invoked to justify violence and discrimination against individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity.  The resolution did not request States to change their legislation or to recognize same-sex marriages; it was merely upholding the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which guaranteed equal rights to all human beings.  The United Kingdom urged upon all to vote for this resolution to stop violence and discrimination.

Maldives, speaking in a general comment, said that the draft resolution was divisive and endorsed the proposed amendments which sought to respect international standards and ensure the protection of all persons around the globe.

Qatar, speaking in a general comment, rejected violence and discrimination against everyone and condemned the attempts to involve the Human Rights Council in matters that did not enjoy consensus or were not part of international instruments which Member States had ratified.  There were some practices which might be acceptable by some people in some communities, but it did not mean that they were acceptable in all communities and Qatar insisted on the need to recognize religious and cultural diversity among States.

United Arab Emirates, speaking in a general comment, rejected the instrumentalization of the Council and of human rights to impose concepts that ran counter to international human rights instruments.  The United Arab Emirates rejected all forms of violence and discrimination, but rejected this concept as it was contrary to its cultural identity.  It called upon Members of the Council to vote in favour of the amendments introduced by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. 

Maldives and Qatar took the floor to request that, should the amendments be rejected, the Council should hold separate votes on some parts of the draft resolution as follows: a vote on the title of the draft resolution, a vote on the preambular paragraph 4, a vote on operational paragraph 2, and a vote on operational paragraphs 3 to 7 altogether.

Action on L.71
 
Mexico, speaking on behalf of the core group of sponsors in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said they wished to reject the amendment which tried to transform the initiative into something else.  Modifying the title was an attempt at changing the resolution.  Approving the amendment would amount to erasing racism in a resolution on racism or the word albinism in a resolution on albinism.  The sponsors of the amendment were undermining all progress achieved in the field of discrimination, minorities, the rights of women, and many more.  It would be a dangerous unintended consequence of the amendment.  The Human Rights Council must not ignore human rights violations against persons on the basis of their sexual or gender identity.  All delegations were urged to vote no on the amendment.

Slovenia, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that people were being discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.  No country was immune to that problem.  It was the responsibility of the Human Rights Council to address that specific grave and widespread problem.  The Human Rights Council had already showed it could step up to its role by addressing discrimination against people based on their specific traits.

L.71 was rejected by a vote of 17 in favour, 18 against and 9 abstentions.
 
Action on L.72

Mexico, speaking on behalf of the core group of sponsors in an explanation of the vote before the vote, strongly rejected amendment L.72 as it intended to change the objective and focus of the draft resolution.  By removing a reference to the previous resolutions of the Human Rights Council, including 17/19 and 27/31, it would deny what the Council had already acknowledged in those texts: the existence of widespread violence and discrimination against persons on the grounds of their sexual orientation and gender identity.  The draft resolution specifically built upon these Council resolutions.  Mexico called for a vote and called upon all to vote against L.72

Switzerland, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that Switzerland opposed any type of discrimination but the amendment only had one objective: to delete a reference to previous Council resolutions, including resolutions 17/19  and 27/32.  Switzerland could not support the amendment. 

L.72 was rejected by a vote of 17 in favour, 18 against and 9 abstentions.

Action on L.73

Mexico, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote on behalf of the core group of sponsors, said that amendment L.73 was completely unacceptable because it implied that the resolution as drafted was not objective and was confrontational.  It was exactly the opposite.  The draft resolution aimed at promoting dialogue and understanding, and had been motivated by the fact that more than 100 States from all regions had, in the context of the Universal Periodic Review, committed to address violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual violation and gender identity.  Mexico called on all Member States to vote against this draft amendment.

Germany, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that this amendment was not discussed or presented during negotiations.  It was vague and unclear, and implied that the co-sponsors were confrontational when they had, on the contrary, opened negotiations to all. 

L.73 was adopted by a vote of 24 in favour, 17 against and 4 abstentions.  By this vote, after the fourth preambular paragraph, a new paragraph will be inserted reading: Stressing the need to maintain joint ownership of the international human rights agenda and to consider human rights issues in an objective and non-confrontational manner,

 
Action on L.74

Mexico, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote on behalf of the core group of sponsors, said the sponsors were strongly committed to the fight against all forms of intolerance and discrimination.  Among the different forms of intolerance and discrimination was that suffered by those on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity.  Mexico expressed concern that the purpose of amendment L.74 was to bring confusion into the discussion and deviate from the focus of the initiative.  All were called on to vote “no” on the amendment.

Panama, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that this amendment was out of place.  It was clear that it undermined the scope and force of the resolution before the Human Rights Council.  Panama insisted that the Council address all human rights violations or it would be sending a negative message to all people that the Council was not capable of providing all people without distinction with protection from human rights violations.  

L.74 was adopted by a vote of 23 in favour, 17 against and 5 abstentions. 
By this vote, after the fourth preambular paragraph,  a new paragraphwill be inserted reading: Undertaking to support its broad and balanced agenda, and to strengthen the mechanisms addressing issues of importance, including fighting racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance in all their forms,

Action on L.75

Mexico, speaking on behalf of the core group of sponsors in an explanation of the vote before the vote, strongly rejected the proposed amendment because it misquoted the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action.  The international community must treat all human rights equally, and the core group reminded of the duty of States to promote and protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms.  By rejecting L.75 the Council members would promote universality of human rights.  

Netherlands, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that after long discussions in Vienna during the World Conference, all delegations had united on the formula that was now found in article 5 of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, which recognized the importance of national and regional particularities and various historical, cultural and religious backgrounds.  It was the duty of States, regardless of their political, economic or cultural systems, to promote and protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms.  This was the common standard that the States had set and the mere fact that certain practices had a long history could not be the basis for acceptance.  Governments must prevent violence and discrimination against all people no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity; there was no claim of special group rights.

L.75 was adopted by a vote of 20 in favour, 18 against and 6 abstentions.
By that vote, after the fourth preambular paragraph , a new paragraph will be inserted which should read: Reiterating the importance of respecting regional, cultural and religious value systems as well as particularities in considering human rights issues,

Action on Draft Amendment L.76

Mexico, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote on behalf of the core group of sponsors, said that the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, in 1993, had recognized States’ duty to promote all human rights, regardless of their political, economic and cultural systems.  Any attempt to reinterpret this principle had to be strongly rejected.  All people had an equal right to live free from violence and discrimination.  Failure to uphold the human rights of all people and protect them against discrimination or violence constituted a serious violation of international human rights law. 

Slovenia, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that each State had the right to a cultural identity.  However, human rights and freedoms belonged to all individuals.  Human rights and fundamental freedoms could not be subjected to selective recognition or protection.  Slovenia called upon all Members of the Human Rights Council to vote against this draft amendment. 

L.76 was adopted by a vote of 21 in favour, 17 against and 7 abstentions.  By this vote, after the fourth preambular paragraph, a new paragraph will be insertedreading:           Underlining the fundamental importance of respecting relevant domestic debates at the national level on matters associated with historical, cultural, social and religious sensitivities,

Action on L.77
 
Mexico, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote on behalf of the core group of sponsors, said that the amendment misleadingly tried to introduce the false idea that the resolution tried to use economic sanctions and coercive measures to undermine the authority of States to determine and influence their own decision-making processes.  The proposed amendment damaged the goal of addressing the violence and discrimination that millions of persons around the world suffered on a daily basis.

Switzerland, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the amendment introduced a false idea about the resolution.  The argument of sovereignty was not valid.  The heart of resolution L2/Rev.1 was to recall the right to non-discrimination for all individuals.  Switzerland would vote against and urged all to do likewise.

United Kingdom, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said it was the country’s opinion that the paragraph contained in the amendment had no place in the text.  The resolution was about stopping violence and discrimination.  The United Kingdom had a longstanding tradition to reject such coercive measures at the Human Rights Council.

L.77 was adopted by a vote of 23 in favour, 18 against and 4 abstentions.  By this vote, after the fourth preambular paragraph, a new paragraphwill be inserted reading: Deploring the use of external pressures and coercive measures against States, particularly developing countries, including through the use and threat of use of economic sanctions and/or application of conditionality on official development assistance, with the aim of influencing the relevant domestic debates and decision-making processes at the national level,

Action on L.78

Mexico, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote on behalf of the core group of sponsors, said they rejected this amendment, which affirmed that the main sponsors were trying to impose notions or concepts pertaining to social matters.  The objective of the draft resolution L.2/Rev.1 was the opposite.  Violence and discrimination were not private matters; they were public issues that threatened the society as a whole.  Moreover, the amendment was an offense against the victims of violence, discrimination and abuse suffered by thousands of people all over the world because of their sexual orientation or gender equality. 

Netherland, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, opposed this draft amendment.  The Universal Declaration on Human Rights’ spirit was to address violence and discrimination on whatever factor.  The list it contained was open-ended.  Every time people invented a reason to use violence or to discriminate against persons for a specific factor, the international community had to respond.  

United Kingdom, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the universality of human rights was enshrined in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.  The Council had the mandate to address human rights for all people, without distinction of any kind.  The issue of sexual orientation or gender identity did not fall outside of this international framework.  The United Kingdom urged the Council’s Member States to vote against this amendment. 

The Council then adopted draft amendment L.78 by a vote of 17 in favour, 18 against, with 9 abstentions.  By this vote, after the fourth preambular paragraph, a new paragraphwill be inserted reading: Concerned by any attempt to undermine the international human rights system by seeking to impose concepts or notions pertaining to social matters, including private individual conduct, that fall outside the internationally agreed human rights legal framework, and taking into account that such attempts constitute an expression of disregard for the universality of human rights,
 
Action on L.79

Mexico, speaking on behalf of the core group of sponsors in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said they rejected the amendment and recalled that everyone was entitled to all rights and freedoms recognised in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, without distinction of any kind.  The amendment placed national sovereignty and cultural relativism over the universality of human rights.  Human rights were universal and allegations of national sovereignty should not be invoked to perpetrate human rights violations.  States could not hide themselves under their sovereignty, national laws, development priorities or religious or ethical values in order not to respect human rights.

Panama, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, rejected the draft amendment that imposed specific values above the norms of human rights using sovereignty as a pretext.  All were born equal and free in rights and those with different sexual orientation and gender identity had those same rights.  The adoption of the draft amendment would be a denial of the mandate of the Council to protect and promote human rights of all without distinction.

United Kingdom, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, opposed the draft amendment and said that the appropriate balance between cultural and religious values and universal human rights was set in article 5 of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action and had been adequately addressed by the draft resolution.  The proposed amendment was also incomplete and confusing and the United Kingdom called on members to vote against it.

Netherlands, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, opposed the draft amendment and said that the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action had already established that the universality of human rights drummed particularities; sovereignty and national legislation must be tested against international obligations.   
 
The Council then adopted draft amendment L.79 by a vote of 22 in favour, 17 against and 5 abstentions.   By this vote, after the fourth preambular paragraph, a new paragraph will be inserted reading: Underlining that the present resolution should be implemented while ensuring respect for the sovereign right of each country as well as its national laws, development priorities, the various religious and ethical values and cultural backgrounds of its people, and should also be in full conformity with universally recognized international human rights,

Action on L.80

Mexico, speaking on behalf of the core group of sponsors in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said they rejected the proposed amendment because it sought to transform the draft resolution into a statement of such generality that lost the original focus and purpose.  It would make the resolution irrelevant considering that the overall protection was provided under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  The amendment failed to identify serious and systematic violations affecting people because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.  The proposed amendment was contrary to the common condemnation of the recent killings in Orlando.

Switzerland, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, stated that L.80 weakened the original draft resolution, especially the negative consideration of violations committed against individuals because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.  The worldwide situation was serious enough to justify the use of the word “strongly” in the beginning of the paragraph.  The goal of the draft resolution was to protect human rights, rather than a matter of calling for specific rights.  It aimed to highlight that there were victims of specific violations and to avoid making those persons invisible. 

United Kingdom, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, opposed the proposed amendment L.80 which sought to transform the draft resolution in a way that would not deplore the violence committed against people of different sexual and gender identity.  In view of the Orlando killings, the Council would send a discouraging message to the world if it adopted the amendment.

The Council then rejected the amendment L.80 with a vote of 16 in favour, 20 against, and 8 abstentions. 


Action on L.81

Mexico, speaking on behalf of the core group of sponsors in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said they strongly rejected in the most unequivocal terms the draft amendment which was an attack on the heart of the resolution: it completely rewrote the resolution, deleting six paragraphs, striping all references to sexual orientation and gender identity, and eliminating the creation of a mechanism of Independent Expert.  The amendment would fundamentally alter the nature and goal of the draft resolution.  The report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights claimed that current arrangements to protect the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons were inadequate and Mexico stressed that this protection gap urgently needed to be addressed.  Preventing systematic attention to issues of sexual orientation and gender identity would not reduce polarization.  The core group urged all delegations to vote against the proposed amendment and give hope and dignity to millions.

United Kingdom, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the amendment sought to remove all references to the main issues of the draft resolution: violence and discrimination against individuals because of their sexual orientation and gender identify.  By accepting this amendment, States were condoning violence, which could include death.  Tragically, there had been reports of gay men being attacked and beaten simply for supporting the victims of the Orlando attack.  This should not be a North-South issue, many southern countries had taken leadership on the issue.  The amendment sought to remove protection from those who needed it the most.  The resolution would facilitate dialogue and would fill the protection gap for some of the most vulnerable individuals.

Switzerland, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said Switzerland would vote against the proposed amendment which was completely unacceptable because it sought to make completely invisible the people who suffered violence and discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity.

Russian Federation, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, supported draft amendment L.81.  Introducing new grounds for discrimination would only cause problems and confrontation within the Council, and would not contribute to joint efforts by the international community to promote and protect human rights.  Russia called on all Member States to vote in favour of this draft amendment. 

Netherlands, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, completely opposed this amendment, and did not agree that concepts of discrimination or violence on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity were introduced by the co-sponsors.  These concepts were introduced by the perpetrators of such discrimination or violence, and deserved specific attention from the Council and from an Independent Expert.  This issue had to be addressed nationally and internationally. 

The Council then rejected draft amendment L.81 by a vote of 17 in favour, 19 against, with 8 abstentions. 

Action on the Title of Draft Resolution L.2/Rev.1
 
Mexico, speaking on behalf of the core group of sponsors in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that all those supporting the original draft were urged to vote in favour of the current title.

United Kingdom, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, explained that the title focused on violence and discrimination, which were key to the text of the resolution.  Everyone was entitled to all the rights and freedoms set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights without distinction of any kind.  Violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation had no place at the United Nations.

Nigeria, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, called on all those who voted against the amendments to kindly consider that the title of the draft resolution was very misleading.  The whole idea of the draft resolution was to appoint an Independent Expert. 

Switzerland, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, shared the confusion of the Mexican delegation regarding the call for the vote on the title of the draft resolution.  The title reflected the overall aim of the draft resolution. 

The Council then adopted the title of the draft resolution L.2/Rev.1 with a vote of 22 in favour, 15 against, and eight abstentions.

Action on Preambular Paragraph 4

Mexico, speaking on behalf of the core group of sponsors in an explanation of the vote before the vote, urged all Member States to vote in favour of retaining preambular paragraph 4 in the draft resolution. 

Switzerland, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, supported retaining this paragraph as well, and urged all delegations to do the same. 

United Kingdom, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that this paragraph was important to contextualize the mandate of the Independent Expert by referring to previous Council resolutions on this issue. 

By a vote of 21 in favour, 14 against, with nine abstentions, the Council decided to retain preambular paragraph 4 in draft resolution L.2/Rev.1.

Action on Operative Paragraph 2
 
Mexico, speaking on behalf of the core group of sponsors in an explanation of the vote before the vote, repeated that those supporting the original draft resolution should vote in favour of retaining operative paragraph 2. 

United Kingdom, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that voting against operative paragraph 2 would mean that the Human Rights Council would condone violence against persons because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.  It would say to those individuals that such violence was justified and that it mattered less than other forms of violence. 

Switzerland, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said it would vote in favour of operative paragraph 2 because it described a factual situation.  It was important to render that category of discrimination visible.  It urged all Member States to do the same. 

The Council then adopted operative paragraph 2 with a vote of 23 in favour, 14 against, and 8 abstentions. 

Separate Action on Operative Paragraphs 3 to 7

Mexico, speaking on behalf of the core group of sponsors in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that operative paragraphs 3 to 7 were the heart of the resolution.  This vote was an attempt to reintroduce amendments that had already been defeated.  It called on all delegations to vote in favour of retaining these paragraphs. 

United Kingdom, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that these paragraphs were fundamental to the resolution.  Voting against them would vote against the spirit of the resolution.  These paragraphs did not seek to impose values, and they did not refer to same-sex marriage.  Discrimination and violence had to stop, and the United Nations should engage towards that goal.  The United Kingdom urged all States to vote in favour of maintaining operative paragraphs 3 to 7.

Russian Federation, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the establishment of this Special Procedure with such a confrontational approach would mean the end of dialogue within the Council.  This mandate would have unclear powers, and unclear terms of reference.  Its establishment would not lead to additional protection for millions of people, it would just lead to a waste of the resources of the United Nations.  The Russian Federation would vote against retaining these paragraphs, and called on all delegations to do the same. 

Saudi Arabia, speaking in an explanation of vote before the vote, said that the concepts of sexual orientation or gender identity were not recognized under international law, and were unclear.  Adopting these paragraphs would open a Pandora ’s Box against Governments and individuals over rights that did not enjoy consensus.  This would only create further division within the United Nations.  This issue should be left for States to decide, not the United Nations. 

Switzerland, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that in light of what had just been said, an Independent Expert would contribute to clarifying those concepts.  It supported retaining these paragraphs. 

With a vote of 21 in favour, 17 against, with 7 abstentions, the Council decided to retain operational paragraphs 3 to 7 within draft resolution L.2/Rev.1. 

Action on Draft Resolution L.2/Rev.1

Mexico, speaking on behalf of the core group of sponsors in an explanation of the vote before the vote, noted that many proposed amendments would have gone against the purpose of the draft resolution.  Fortunately, they had been rejected.  The main objective still stood, which was the appointment of an Independent Expert; the main purpose would be fulfilled even if the draft resolution was amended.  Mexico urged all Member States to be consistent and to vote in favour of the draft resolution in order to give hope to millions of persons.

Philippines, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, stated that it was its practice to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms for all.  It had stood against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.  However, a human rights mandate holder specific to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex rights would run counter to the universality of human rights.  Philippines expressed hope that this would not derogate the rights of States and impinge on their sovereignty.  The creation of a mandate holder would apply a set of rules specific to a certain sector on which there was no international agreement.  Thus, the Philippines would abstain on the draft resolution.

Russian Federation, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that authorities in Russia carefully investigated and prosecuted all cases of violence and discrimination.  Elements of private life were deeply individual choices, and they did not need a particular system of protection.  International law, and national law in Russia, was extended in all areas equally, including women, ethnic or religious minorities or homosexuals.  The Russian Federation noted that many thousands of years of development was carried out by those who did not make such a private choice, and the Russian Federation regretted that the co-sponsors of this resolution were trying to prevent others from defending their own views.  The Russian Federation would vote against the creation of this mandate, and should it be established nonetheless, it would not cooperate with it. 

Saudi Arabia, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that this draft resolution went contrary to its sacred values.  It sought to impose issues that were prohibited by Saudi Arabia’s religion.  This had nothing to do with discrimination or violence.  The adoption of this mandate holder would lead to discussions on controversial issues that the Council would never be in a position to impose on Saudi Arabia.  Saudi Arabia would vote against this text, and would not cooperate with the Independent Expert. 
 
South Africa, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, noted that no person should be subjected to discrimination or violence on any ground, including on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.  South Africa’s approach to the protection of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons was focusing on maximum unity within the Council.  The draft resolution added unnecessary divisiveness, building on the previous African initiative of 2012.  It was an arrogant approach.  Recklessness and point scoring would not take anyone anywhere.  South Africa could not support the resolution as it stood and would thus abstain.

Botswana, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, noted that its Constitution did not condone violence against any person.  It had to be noted, however, that at the international level there was no accepted terminology on gender identity and sexual orientation.  In that regard, it was important to respect local cultural, religious and historic circumstances and values. 

Nigeria, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, observed that the draft resolution had a lot of defects in substance and form.  States had the right to make laws for the good governance of their people.  That right could not be hijacked by other States to impose offensive practices.  The selection of mandate holders had to be transparent.  However, the procedure building up to the draft resolution had not been transparent.  The Council was not yet ready for an Independent Expert on gender identity and sexual orientation as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex rights did not enjoy the kind of general acceptance necessary for their adoption as universally accepted rights.  For those reasons Nigeria would vote against the draft resolution.

Viet Nam, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, welcomed efforts to combat violence and discrimination, and would vote in favour of the draft resolution.  Viet Nam stressed that the mandate holder endorsed in the draft should discharge his or her duty strictly in line with the code of conduct.  Differences among societies had to be respected.  That was the principle under which Viet Nam had voted on the amendments.

Indonesia, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, reaffirmed its commitment to the elimination of violence against all persons as defined in international human rights treaties.  The Council should take a constructive and cooperative approach, especially when concerned with issues touching on morality.  Members of the Council should refrain from imposing values which did not enjoy international consensus.  Indonesia was concerned that the draft resolution was divisive.  While welcoming several amendments, Indonesia considered that the basic proposal remained the same, and for that reason was unable to support the draft resolution.  Indonesia also wanted it put on the record that Indonesia would not engage with the mandate holder.

Albania, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, commended the leadership of the core group protesting against violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity.  Violence against any individual was condemned, and the inherent dignity of all individuals should be upheld.  The protection from violence of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons was a priority for the Albanian Government.  The aim of the draft resolution was to appoint a Special Procedure mandate holder, who could work on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.  The current text of the resolution did not seek to create any new rights, but affirmed the application of existing human rights standards.

France, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that it did not subscribe to the amendments brought to the text, which were contrary to the universality of human rights.  France would vote in favour of the text, which was useful to enhance the fight against violence or discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation and gender equality. 

Morocco, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, regretted that the draft was dividing the Council, when the tenth anniversary of the Council should have been an opportunity to promote consensus.  This text ran against the beliefs of more than 1.5 billion people in the world.  Islam was a religion of non-violence, and Morocco had made great commitments in that regard.  But today it was forced to call on all States to vote against this text, in order to support those outside the United Nations who expected the Council to protect their culture and values.  

Algeria, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, reiterated its opposition to all types of violence or discrimination.  However, it believed that it was not useful to impose values upon others.  Sexual orientation was a private matter, and Algeria rejected appointing a mandate holder on this issue.

Ghana, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, reminded that in 2013 the African Commission on Human Rights had adopted  a resolution on the protection against violence and other human rights violations on the basis of gender identity.  It was adopted against the background of alarming human rights violations against individuals because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.  The current discussion was taking place against the background of the Orlando killings.  The laws of Ghana would not permit any individual to be persecuted because of their sexual orientation.  However, the matter was culturally very sensitive in Ghana.  Ghana supported those who were naturally inclined to have a different sexual orientation, but it did not accept the propagation or commercialization of it.  It would therefore abstain.

Namibia, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, opposed any violence against individuals based on sexual orientation and gender identity.  All persons in Namibia were equal under law.  Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons were able to participate in government services.  However, there was no internationally agreed definition of sexual orientation and gender identity, which left a lacuna in law.  Namibia was concerned about the mandate of the Independent Expert and thus it would abstain.

United Kingdom, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that although the resolution had been amended, its fundamental aim had been retained.  The draft resolution did not ask countries to change their legislation.  It urged States to vote in favour of the draft resolution in order to protect some of the most vulnerable persons in society.  It would give hope to many people around the world.  A vote in favour would be a vote of solidarity for the countless victims of discrimination around the world.

Netherlands, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, expressed gratitude to the sponsors for their thoughtful concept note.  The Netherlands did not believe that the international community had to wait for absolute unity.  It was important not to fail persons who belonged to minorities.  The Netherlands had not supported the inclusion of a number of preambular paragraphs.  If one looked at the package, universality still prevailed, and that remained the Netherlands’ perspective.

The Council then adopted resolution L.2/Rev.1 by a vote of 23 in favour, 18 against and six abstentions.

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