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Human Rights Council holds interactive dialogue on sexual orientation and gender identity, and on arbitrary executions

MORNING
 
Hears Address by the United States’ Permanent Representative to the United Nations
 
GENEVA (6 June 2017) - The Human Rights Council this morning held a clustered interactive dialogue with Vitit Muntharbhorn, Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.  It also heard an address by Nikki Haley, Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations.
 
Ms. Haley said that the United States was looking carefully at the Human Rights Council and its own engagement with this body.  The United States was strongly committed to the promotion and protection of human rights, which was deeply intertwined with peace and security.  All United Nations bodies, including the Security Council, should seek to address human rights violations in their work.  In this session, it was essential for the Council to adopt the strongest resolutions on the human rights situation in various countries.  No country that was a human rights violator should have a seat at this table, Ms. Haley stressed. 
 
Mr. Muntharbhorn, presenting his first thematic report, underlined the need to recognize that gender identity could be different from the gender assigned at birth.  He recalled that, in many countries, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons were still victims of torture, mistreatment, killing, harassment and bullying from a young age.  Cultural and religious sensibilities had to be taken into account in order to raise awareness on sexual orientation discrimination.  Promoting non-discriminant values in education and raising awareness were essential to put an end to disrespectful and hate attitudes.
 
Ms. Callamard said that a gender-based perspective on extra-judicial, summary or arbitrary killings, and the right to life more generally, exposed facts otherwise hidden, including the heightened vulnerability to killings, executions and arbitrary deprivation of life on the basis of one’s gender.  A gender-sensitive perspective brought gender-based killings squarely within the Special Rapporteur’s mandate, and revealed the systemic discrimination that must be remedied for all people to enjoy equal rights.  She spoke of her predecessor’s country visit to Honduras in May 2016.
 
Honduras spoke as a concerned country.
 
In the ensuing discussion on discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, many speakers underscored the landmark nature of the Independent Expert’s mandate.  They underscored that rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons were not separate rights, but human rights ensured for all persons, emphasizing the intersectionality of violence and discrimination faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons.  They asked the Independent Expert to elaborate on ways to foster constructive dialogue with a view to contributing to progress in laws and practice.  Others underscored their continuing strong opposition to the mandate, stating that mandate-holders had to respect historical, cultural, social and religious sensitivities.
 
On extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, some delegations underscored their agreement with the Special Rapporteur that extrajudicial and arbitrary executions could be performed by State and non-State actors and that in both cases, States bore the ultimate responsibility to protect the right to life of its citizens.  They noted that it was crucial to integrate a gender perspective in all public policies.  Speakers asked the Special Rapporteur to share good practices and the most important lessons learned from her study on gender-based violence in order to reduce this violence. 
 
Speaking were Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Chile on behalf of a group of countries, European Union, the Netherlands on behalf of the Equal Rights Coalition, Iceland on behalf of the Nordic countries, Sierra Leone, United States, Estonia, Greece, Austria, Czechia, Montenegro, Canada, Cuba, Belgium, Spain, Chile, Germany, Australia, Mexico, Philippines, Switzerland, Argentina, Malta, France, Slovenia, Venezuela, Brazil, Thailand, Colombia, Honduras, Latvia, Albania, Netherlands,  Portugal, Israel, Liechtenstein, Tunisia, Costa Rica, United Nations Children’s Fund, Ecuador, Nigeria, Bolivia, Luxembourg, Georgia, Ireland, Lithuania, United Kingdom, New Zealand and Uruguay.
 
Also speaking was the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions, as well as the following non-governmental organizations: International Service for Human Rights, Alliance Defending Freedom, Asian Legal Resource Centre, Swedish Federation of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights, International Lesbian and Gay Association, Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain, Colombian Commission of Jurists, International Bar Association, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Action Canada for Population and Development, Franciscans International, United Nations Watch, Comision Mexicana, Asian Forum for human rights and development and Human Rights Watch.
 
The Council is holding a full day of meetings today.  It will next hold a clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the right to health, Dainius Puras, and the Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity, Virginia Dandan.
 
Documentation
 
The Council has before it the Report of the Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (A/HRC/35/36).
 
The Council has before it the Report of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions (A/HRC/35/23).
 
The Council has before it an addendum to the Report of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions - mission to Honduras
(A/HRC/35/23/Add.1).
 
The Council has before it an addendum to the Report of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions - observations on communications transmitted to Governments and replies received (A/HRC/35/23/Add.2).
 
The Council has before it an addendum to the Report of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions - comments by Honduras (A/HRC/35/23/Add.3).
 
Statement by the Independent Expert on Protection against Violence and Discrimination based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
 
VITIT MUNTARBHORN, Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, presenting his first thematic report, recalled that in general, gender identity was assigned at birth and could determine sexual inclination.  However, there was a need to recognize that gender identity could be different from the gender that had been originally assigned.  In many countries, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons were still victims of torture, mistreatment, killing, harassment, or bullying from a young age.  There was an urgent need to respect humanity in all its diversity, which included non-discrimination based on sexual orientation.  The report was based on a balanced and cross-checked work that took into account the reports of a wide range of sources.  The Independent Expert underscored that cultural and religious sensibilities had to be taken into account in order to raise awareness of sexual orientation discrimination.  This goal could be achieved by implementing international instruments, engaging consultations with States and other stakeholders, ensuring the protection of persons via the principles of international law, and following the Sustainable Development Goals that were meant to not leave anyone behind.  The context in each country must also be taken into account as laws and policies criminalizing same sex relations often led to violence in all domains of life. 
 
Mr. Muntarbhorn recalled that in many countries, transgender people could not access the legal recognition of their gender identity; until 1999, at the international level, homosexuals were recognized as mentally ill.  This approach was now being increasingly put into question.  Based on universality, religions could serve as a basis for respect of all couples.  Promoting non-discriminatory values in education and raising awareness were essential to put an end to disrespectful and hate attitudes.  The Independent Expert invited the Council audience to respond to his report, in the hope that it would encourage States to ratify human rights instruments and fight all kinds of violence and discrimination.
 
Statement by the Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions
 
AGNES CALLAMARD, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, noted that gender was an extraordinarily strong determinant of human rights enjoyment in general, and for the right to life in particular.  Societies, Governments and public institutions still largely failed women and girls, particularly those belonging to socio-economic, ethnic and racial minorities.  Hate crimes on the basis of gender still prevailed at all levels of societies.   Women with disabilities worldwide experienced domestic violence, including physical, sexual, emotional, psychological and financial abuse, at twice the rate of other women.  Girls with disabilities were also particularly at risk of infanticide because their families were unwilling or lacked the support to raise a girl with an impairment.   A gender-based perspective on extra-judicial, summary or arbitrary killings, and the right to life more generally, exposed facts otherwise hidden, including the heightened vulnerability to killings, executions and arbitrary deprivation of life on the basis of one’s gender – more often than not, intersecting with other identity markers such as class, race or sexual expression.  A gender-sensitive perspective brought gender-based killings squarely within the Special Rapporteur’s mandate, and revealed the systemic discrimination that must be remedied for all people to enjoy equal rights. 
 
Ms. Callamard emphasized that safeguards against arbitrary deprivation of life also applied to killings by non-State actors.  States had to act with due diligence to prevent, investigate, punish and provide compensation for human rights violations, whether committed by State or non-State actors.  That standard of due diligence was set out in numerous international instruments and was particularly well-developed in the context of femicide and other gender-based killings.  The Special Rapporteur highlighted gender-based atrocities in the context of armed conflicts, including rape and other forms of sexual violence against both men and women, reflecting their widespread use as a weapon of war.  The Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic had identified such crimes committed by most parties to the conflict in Syria.  The right not to be arbitrarily killed was not only a matter for civil and political rights; it was also about economic, social and cultural rights, and the exercise of the right to development.  The vast majority of women and girls, for instance, confronted a wide-spread formal and informal system of discriminatory State and non-State action and inaction, resulting in violations of their rights to life’s basic necessities and ultimately in violations of their right to life.  Gender-based killings, for example, that resulted from a deliberate denial of life-saving commodities and essential services could constitute arbitrary killings, where it could be shown that that denial was deliberate, grounded in discrimination in law and practice, and where the State knew or should have known deaths would occur as a result.
 
Speaking of her predecessor’s country visit to Honduras in May 2016, Ms. Callamard stated that patterns of drug smuggling, grinding poverty and inequality made it hard to break out of the cycle of violence.  Positive steps had been taken and incidences of violence had gone down to some extent since 2013.  However, they remained at an alarming level.  Impunity remained the hallmark and to a large extent the cause of the ongoing violence.  While impunity was the result of engrained corruption, extortion and weak institutions, much could and should be done to remedy the situation.
 
Statement by a Concerned Country
 
Honduras, speaking as a concerned country, reiterated its gratitude to the former Special Rapporteur Christof Heyns for his visit in 2016.  The challenges faced by Honduras in the last decade were well-known, the country having become since the year 2000 a main track for trafficking of drugs to North America.  That had led to organized crime, which had exacerbated violence in the country.  For Honduras, the eradication of violence against women was a priority.  Generalized violence had led to the displacement of thousands upon thousands of people in the country.  Honduras supported the appeal to the international community regarding the principle of non-refoulement as well as the need for an evaluation in every case of request for asylum.  Honduras had adopted many important legislative measures to restore the trust of citizens.  Sustainable and long-term solutions were needed to address issues such as poverty and other forms of exclusion.  The main challenge for Honduras was to promote a culture of non-indifference to violence.
 
Clustered Interactive Dialogue
 
Pakistan, speaking on behalf of all members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation except Albania, said that the Organization of Islamic Cooperation did not recognize the mandate of the Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and that its Member States were not in a position to engage, interact or cooperate in any way with the mandate holder.  The Human Rights Council and its mandate holders had to respect relevant matters associated with historical, cultural, social and religious sensitivities while exercising their mandates, especially when those matters had no foundation in international human rights law.  Chili, speaking on behalf of a group of countries, welcomed the report of the Independent Expert, stating that it was an excellent starting point to recognize that discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons needed to be addressed at the international level.  There was an urgent need to identify good practices and the Independent Expert held a key responsibility in doing so.  European Union reiterated its strong commitment for the respect of all gender identities and remained deeply concerned about the alarming rates of violence and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons.   It asked the Independent Expert to elaborate on ways to foster dialogue with a view to contribute to the much needed progress in laws and in practice.  
 
Netherlands, speaking on behalf of the Equal Rights Coalition, said the Coalition looked forward to work in close cooperation with the Independent Expert and all other stakeholders.  The Equal Rights Coalition fully subscribed to the principle of “humanity in diversity” that was the basis of the Independent Expert’s first report, and recognized that, also in their countries, there was room for improvement for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons.  Iceland, speaking on behalf of Nordic countries, voiced concerns that 17 countries still criminalized same sex relations and that some States still applied the death penalty.  Under no circumstances could torture or mistreatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons be justified.  The Human Rights Council played a key role in ensuring the protection of these persons through the implementation of human rights international instruments.  Sierra Leone agreed that extrajudicial and arbitrary executions could be performed by State and non-State actors and that in both cases, States bored the ultimate responsibility to protect the right to life of its citizens.  Femicide was a particularly worrying phenomenon that needed to be addressed and investigated in due diligence.  United States congratulated the Independent Expert for his first report which clearly highlighted that horrific acts of violence were inflicted on people because of their gender identity.  Every person deserved to live as they wished.  The United States asked the Independent Expert to give details on how he would engage countries into respecting the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons that were criminialized in over 17 countries.  
 
Estonia remained concerned about the discrimination, stigmatization and violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons, and called on all States to cooperate with the Independent Expert.  What were solutions for online hate speech in that respect?  Greece reminded of the need to protect and promote gender identity as consensual same-sex relationships remained a crime in many countries.  Greece also pledged to continue the fight to eliminate gender-based discrimination.   Austria regretted discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation, and asked the Independent Expert to elaborate on the significance of social media in combatting stereotypes, as well as in promoting hate speech.  Czechia stated that it did not see rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons as separate rights, but as human rights.  It asked the Independent Expert whether he considered drivers for change as consequent steps, or whether there was a need for a holistic approach.  Montenegro condemned all forms of violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons.  It also shared deep concern about extremely high levels of gender-based violence in conflicts.  Canada underscored the intersectionality of violence and discrimination faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons.  It asked the Independent Expert about the strategies to increase State-level engagement and cooperation with all interested stakeholders.
 
Cuba commended the efforts of the Special Rapporteur to fulfil the commitment to provide a gender approach, and asked for Ms. Callamard’s experiences to date that could be appropriate to addressing gender-related crimes.  Regarding Mr. Muntharbhorn’s report, Cuba welcomed his mandate’s openness to continue building bridges, and asked him how he planned to seek consensus around the topic of sexual orientation and gender identity to promote a balanced treatment, given the varying opinions on the matter.  Belgium thanked Mr. Muntharbhorn for his first year’s work, welcomed his focus on decriminalizing same-sex relations, and asked which role organizations like the Inter-Parliamentary Union could play.  Regarding Ms. Callamard’s report, Belgium shared the Special Rapporteur’s concerns, and asked what role could be played by the State and by civil society.  Spain thanked the Independent Expert for his report, and announced that Spain had started work on a State strategy on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons, which would eliminate any signs of discrimination toward that group.  Chile welcomed the first report of Mr. Muntharbhorn, and shared the comprehensive approach to violence and discrimination, noting that States had an obligation to protect all persons.  Which effective measures had the Independent Expert been able to identify. 
 
Germany welcomed both mandate-holders, saying that the establishment of Mr. Muntharbhorn’s mandate was a major achievement.  In many countries, a dangerous backlash was being witnessed, against civil society in general, and against those defending equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons in particular.  Australia welcomed Mr. Muntharbhorn’s report, agreeing with his recommendation that national human rights institutions should be supported to link States’ international commitments to uphold equal human rights with national action to advance the situation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons.
 
Mexico urged countries to cooperate with the Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and stressed the need to ensure that all persons had the opportunity to achieve their potential.  Mexico asked the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions to share good practices in order to reduce gender-based violence.   Philippines noted that what was lacking in the report of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions was the focus on good practices.  The protection of life and ensuring of safe environment was the primary reason why the Government of Philippines was waging a war on drugs.  Switzerland asked the Independent Expert to recommend measures to establish a constructive dialogue with all States on the need to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons.  It asked the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions to share the most important lessons from her study on gender-based violence.  Argentina understood the important challenges that it had to meet in order to protect the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons. 
 
Remarks by the Independent Expert and the Special Rapporteur
 
VITIT MUNTARBHORN, Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, said he respected the diversity of opinion regarding the mandate.   While he was aware that there were some relationship sensitivities in various countries, he stressed that the duty of States was nevertheless to respect the human rights of all.  He invited those States with good practices to protect the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons to share their experiences.  He reminded that the judiciary in some many countries overturned old laws and legitimized same-sex relationships and unions.  Mr. Muntarbhorn reminded that he was cooperating with various stakeholders to promote goals, such as protecting trans-children from school bullying.  Different branches of the Government did not necessarily agree with each other in the fight against discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons.  As for the role of the media, Mr. Muntarbhorn stated that a law against hate speech was needed.  There was also a need for an industry code of conduct, co-regulation response, and positive counter speech in order to advocate the need for humanity.  Prevention of violations, remedies, good investigations, monitoring and education were necessary for the comprehensive protection of human rights. 
 
AGNES CALLAMARD, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, said that the mandate was old and that her work would be based on the excellent work of her predecessors, which would also allow her to expand the scope and interpret summary executions in the current context.  In future, the Special Rapporteur would focus on to-date excluded groups such as persons with disabilities or women.  There was the interest of the armed groups, drug cartels and organized crimes groups in the context of summary executions, not only in terms of State responses to those acts, but also in terms of their accountability.  Additionally, the mandate would focus on early warning for summary executions through the support to States on the question of the revised Minnesota Protocol and other instruments.  The Human Rights Council should, as a body, survey the extent to which it had adopted a gender-sensitive approach in its own work, and how it recognized the inter-dependence of rights.  The report tried to put forward the normative framework for the understanding of extra-judicial executions from the perspective of gender, and was based on the work to date on the topic.  The report did not elaborate on good practice, which would be addressed in one of the future reports.
 
Statement by the United States’ Permanent Representative to the United Nations
 
NIKKI HALEY, United States’ Permanent Representative to the United Nations, said that the United States was looking carefully at the Human Rights Council and its own engagement with this body.  The United States was strongly committed to the promotion and protection of human rights, which was deeply intertwined with peace and security.  All United Nations bodies, including the Security Council, should seek to address human rights violations in their work.  In this session, it was essential for the Council to adopt the strongest resolutions on the human rights situation in countries such as Syria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ukraine, and Belarus.  Ms. Haley urged all Council Member States to engage strongly with civil society and ensure their protection from reprisals, and to adopt a strong resolution against discrimination against women and human trafficking.  The Council must address the situation in Venezuela; this country should voluntarily step down from its membership in the Council until it brought its own house in order.  No country that was a human rights violator should have a seat at this table, stressed Ms. Haley.  The Council had not adopted a single resolution on Venezuela and yet, it had adopted five very biased resolutions on one single country.  It was therefore essential for the Council to address its chronic anti-Israel bias if it was to have any credibility.
 
Clustered Interactive Dialogue
 
Malta underlined the importance of tackling the violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity.  The issues of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons were at the centre of Malta’s Presidency of the European Union.   France reminded of the alarming violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons, and to that end an early warning mechanism was necessary.  As for extrajudicial executions, it welcomed the attention given to gender issues.  Slovenia reminded that homophobic and transphobic violence remained underreported.  What could be done to best address the multi-layered nature of violence and discrimination, including the root causes?  Venezuela noted that it had promoted the principle of equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons through the Constitutional Court’s rulings.  However, the Council could not impose certain norms of behaviour on countries because that would breach the principle of sovereignty.  Brazil stressed that nobody should be subjected to discrimination based on real or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity.  As for extrajudicial killings, it was crucial to integrate a gender perspective in all public policies.  Thailand underlined that no discrimination should be tolerated and it asked the Independent Expert to elaborate on how human rights education and capacity building could help in countering discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons.   
 
Colombia reiterated its commitment to combatting violence and discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity and stressed that States must adopt measures to ensure equal access for all to education and to justice.  Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons were one of the victimized groups during the armed conflict in Colombia.  Honduras had prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and this year, most of its public institutions had raised a rainbow flag to celebrate the international day.  Honduras welcomed the first report by the Special Rapporteur Callamard and the focus on structural causes of violence.  Latvia valued the observations by the Independent Expert on the need to raise awareness and tackle root causes of violence and discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity and asked what could be the role of the United Nations in this regard, and particularly in avoiding the “protection deficit and vacuum”.
 
Albania said that dialogue was a crucial tool to build progressively the consensus on the need for action to countering violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and asked the Independent Expert about concrete steps to open the dialogue and advance the recognition of the need to address this issue.  Netherlands said that the measure of respect given to minority rights was an indication of a State’s attitude to human rights in general and said that the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons were often the proverbial canary in the coalmine: when their rights were not respected, there was often a lot more that was wrong in the society.  Portugal stressed the duty of all States, regardless of their political, economic and cultural systems, to promote and protect all human rights for all, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons, and asked how States could address the five underpinnings to prevent and overcome violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.  Portugal welcomed the Special Rapporteur’s call for greater integration between the protection of the right to life and the realization of economic, social and cultural rights as a crucial step to protect women and girls’ right to life.
 
Israel welcomed the Independent Expert and the Special Rapporteur for their reports.  Israel fully supported the mandate of the Independent Expert both in Geneva and New York and was committed to work both at the national and international level to combat violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons.  Turning to the Special Rapporteur’s report, it welcomed the gender approach adopted in the methodology and highlighted its key role in any further implementation of safeguards regarding extrajudicial executions. Liechtenstein agreed in line with the Independent Expert that violence based on sexual and gender identity affected society as a whole.  It was committed to protect and promote lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons’ rights in line with the principles in the 2030 agenda.  It was worried that members of the Council had said they would not cooperate with the Independent Expert.  Tunisia highlighted that the Special Rapporteur’s report was an important contribution for the elaboration of preventive measures in order to eradicate extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.  Tunisia recalled the importance of fighting violence against women.  It asked whether the Special Rapporteur could make a contribution on the road to international collaboration on this topic.
 
Costa Rica referred to its experience defining the criteria in order to allow a change in names for persons willing to change gender identities.  OHCHR made 91 observations on this same topic that were submitted by diverse actors.  UNICEF recalled that discrimination experienced by children because of their sexual orientation and gender identity led to stigma that could have consequences in educational performances, degrees of engagement and participation, health and wellbeing.  Ecuador highlighted the need to produce efforts to implement the Sustainable Development Goals and public policies aimed at promoting and protecting human rights for everyone under all circumstances.  Nigeria condemned extrajudicial killings on any grounds and upheld the primacy of the right to life.  It recognized the need for continued training of police and security forces, as well as of human rights education in that respect.  Bolivia stated that it guaranteed the equal protection of all its citizens.  It promoted mutual respect, multicultural dialogue, as well as gender experience. 
 
Luxembourg fully supported the recommendations in the report of the Independent Expert and urged all States to follow them and guarantee full access and cooperation to all Special Procedure mandate holders.  Georgia expressed its full support for the mandate of the Independent Expert and said that no one must be subject to violence and discrimination on any ground, including sexual orientation and gender identity.  Georgia had recently approved a comprehensive anti-discrimination law, banning discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.  Ireland said that the establishment of the Independent Expert’s mandate was an important recognition, not of new rights but of the need to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons from violence and discrimination.  Ireland appreciated the bringing of gender-based perspective to the issue of extra-judicial executions and urged all Council Member States to support the extension of the mandate.  Lithuania strongly supported the mandate of the Independent Expert and the key findings of his report and was appalled by the continued violence against persons on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity, including in Chechnya and Russia. 
 
United Kingdom reminded States of their obligations to conduct prompt, thorough and fair investigations into all suspected extra-judicial, arbitrary and summary killings,  irrespective of who the victims were.  Reports of mass detention, torture and killings of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons in Chechenia, and the punishment of same-sex relations in Aceh, Indonesia, were of concern.  New Zealand was concerned about instances of extra-judicial, arbitrary and summary killings by States and non-State actors in all parts of the world, which represented an irreversible violation of individuals’ right to life.  Also of concern was the violence and abuse based on sexual orientation and gender identity.  The creation of the mandate of the Independent Expert was not about the establishment of new rights but about granting the same set of rights to everyone, irrespective of their background, and this included their sexual orientation and gender identity.
 
Uruguay highlighted that the issue of violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons was often based on fears and lack of knowledge.  It was thus important to clarify concepts in order to chase those fears. The issue of social orientation and gender identity was sensitive, especially in particular regions, but it was not possible to guarantee that all humans were born equal in rights without addressing every kind of violence and discrimination.
 
Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions, recalled that violence and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons existed at different layers of societies and in all regions of the world.  Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons were part of one of the most vulnerable groups in the world and needed to benefit from special assistance mechanisms and judicial protection. It was necessary to advocate more for their rights and to strengthen collaboration with national human rights institutions in different countries.
 
International Service for Human Rights, in a joint statement with, Federatie van Nederlandse Verenigingen tot Integratie Van Homoseksualiteit - COC Nederland International Lesbian and Gay Association, stated that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons faced many obstacles hindering their access to resources and were subject to stigma.  Horrific reports of torture had been recently released in Chechnya, recalling to all stakeholders that it was necessary to strengthen the promotion and protection of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons rights.  Alliance Defending Freedom voiced concerns that the report remained unclear on how the promotion of empathy in the education sector would be implemented effectively. Clarification was also needed on the need for judicial recognition of gender identity.Asian Legal Resource Centre underscored that the Government of the Philippines had been continually committing summary executions against people who were accused of drug trafficking.  In Pakistan, arbitrary executions were committed against people who were allegedly members of terrorist groups.  Asian Legal Resource Centre called on States to stop these criminal practices and abide by international law.  Swedish Federation of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights, recalled that worldwide, transgender people were facing abuses of all kinds and violence.  In total, 2345 murders of trans- and gender-diverse people across 69 countries had been registered in the last 9 years.  The Swedish Federation stressed that gender identity was an interfaced issue and should be contextually integrated with race, age, mental health, HIV status and any other status.
 
International Lesbian and Gay Association, in a joint statement with, Federatie van Nederlandse Verenigingen tot Integratie Van Homoseksualiteit - COC Nederland, called for an end to violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and said that addressing the root causes would be a long journey.  Special Rapporteur Callamard had also explored an intersectional analysis of the causes of violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons.  Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain expressed concern about an increase in executions in Bahrain and an effective end to the moratorium, and an increase in death penalties pronounced following trials in which evidence obtained under torture was accepted.  Colombian Commission of Jurists said that the discussion on progress in the area of sexual orientation and gender identity rights had been used as an obstacle in peace negotiations.  Court decisions had not been translated into the effective enjoyment of rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons in the country.
 
International Bar Association shared the concern raised in the report of the Independent Expert that 100 men had been detained and tortured in Chechnya on account of their real or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity.  Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom urged the Independent Expert to identify ways to prevent violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.  The proposal by the Special Rapporteur on summary executions to apply a gender perspective in arms sales and transfers was welcome.  Action Canada for Population and Development said that sexuality and gender continued to be sites of oppression, discrimination and violence, and subject to harsh political, religious, legal, economic and social control.  A rigorous analysis of the root causes, both systemic and structural, which sustained violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, were critical.
 
Franciscans International, in a joint statement with, Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development, said as a member of the Council, the Philippines Government had failed to uphold the highest standards of human rights and had also placed unacceptable conditions on the Special Rapporteur in conducting her country visit.  The Human Rights Council was urged to condemn extrajudicial killings and the Philippine Government had to collaborate with Council mechanisms.  United Nations Watch said the scourge of jihadist terrorism was the kind of global threat the Council ought to address.  The Independent Expert was asked if he would consider a visit to Iran, as living openly as a gay person was impossible in Iran.  Comision Mexicana expressed concern at the levels of impunity in Mexico, where there had been extrajudicial killings and where parents were still trying to get justice for murders in Puebla.  A broad swathe of Mexican society wanted a proper law approved in Mexico, but a new law might increase the impunity of the armed forces.
 
Asian Forum for human rights and development shared the concern of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial killings in the Philippine Government’s “war on drugs”, including killings by “unknown assailants”.  The Human Rights Council was called on to hold the Philippines accountable to standards expected of its members.  Human Rights Watch welcomed the General Assembly’s recognition of the Independent Expert’s mandate, and noted that States needed to provide protection and redress, and ensure that their legal frameworks did not promote or justify violence and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons.  The Philippines was called on to allow unfettered access to the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions.
 
Concluding Remarks
 
In concluding remarks, VITIT MUNTARBHORN, Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, called on the delegations to send him remarks or any communications that could enrich future reports.  He also noted that six underpinnings would be further examined.  In the past year, his visit to Argentina and the release of the Idaho statement, particularly calling attention to trans students, had been fruitful sources of inspiration for the elaboration of the present report.  Homophobia and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons was a multi-faced phenomenon often based on a lack of knowledge.  He insisted that anti bullying policies and activities with diverse groups, including those representing lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex communities, were good entry points to foster empathy in education.  There was a need for “de-ideologizing” gender and sexual orientation in order to effectively ensure respect and the promotion of human rights for everyone.  He highlighted that sustainable development goal number 16 could serve as a basis to further develop anti-violence policies and mechanisms at the national and international levels.  There was a need to avoid generality and get to specifics in order to be more efficient.  Country missions could be led with other mandate holders in the future.  Finally, he called for renewed engagement to work with both “converted and less converted” individuals in order to ensure that everyone effectively benefitted from their most basic rights.
 
AGNÈS CALLAMARD, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, in her concluding remarks, said that she would make the mandate meaningful for groups which had not been seen as falling squarely within the mandate, such as persons with disabilities, and that she would engage and strengthen the relationship with others in order to strengthen the protection for those groups.  With regard to the relationship between the mandate and the Sustainable Development Goals, the Special Rapporteur said that the right to life was not only a civil and political right, but was also closely intersected with economic, social and cultural rights and in that sense there was a clear inter-relation between the mandate and the Sustainable Development Goals.  This link was obvious in several instances, for example in the issue of maternal mortality as a failure to take measures to reduce it might constitute an arbitrary killing.  The same applied to the denial of access to life-saving services because of discrimination, or in the case of a unsafe abortion - a main cause of mortality for women, it could also constitute an arbitrary killing.  One of major obstacles to address killing of women was the lack of reliable and consistent data in and between the countries.  Ms. Callamard encouraged civil society organizations and activists to be proactive with the mandate and speak with the Special Rapporteur directly.  In the context of communications, many were still in the private domain, said the Special Rapporteur, and reiterated her commitment to undertake a mission to the Philippines as soon as the Government issued a permission.

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