UN Resolution on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity: Contact Your Government Today to Protect Human Rights!

By June 20, 2016Pai, SOGI
 
URGENT ACTION ALERT!
 
UN RESOLUTION ON SEXUAL ORIENTATION & GENDER IDENTITY:
CONTACT YOUR GOVERNMENT TODAY TO PROTECT HUMAN RIGHTS!
 
 
What’s up?
 
      At the current session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, 6 States from Latin America (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Uruguay) have joined together to present a resolution on human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity.
 
      This resolution follows on the 2011 UN resolution on Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity presented by South Africa and the 2014 resolution presented by the Latin American core group. This year, the 6 Latin American states have announced their intention to bring a resolution to create a UN Independent Expert on SOGI during the current June session of the Human Rights Council.
 
      The resolution is expected to come up for a vote in the Council towards the end of June. We therefore have only two weeks to contact governments and send a clear message that human rights violations on these grounds are not acceptable – ever – and that the UN has a responsibility to address the issues in a systematic way through establishment of a UN Independent Expert on SOGI.
Why is it important to have an Independent Expert to address SOGI-related violence and discrimination?
Human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity persist in all regions of the world. About 73 countries still criminalize same-sex sexual relations. Furthermore, there were about 2115 reported killings of trans and gender diverse people in 65 countries worldwide between January 2008 and April 2016. Around the world, people face discrimination in accessing health care, housing, work and education because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.  A UN Independent Expert on SOGI will contribute significantly by:
 
      addressing protection on these and related issues within the UN system, by allowing more detailed exploration of the situation of specific populations, specific patterns of violations and intersectionalities between human rights violation based on SOGI and on other ground, including looking at the root causes of why such violence and discrimination take place 
 
      encouraging more effective responses by Governments, the UN and other stakeholders about SOGI issues
 
      engaging in constructive dialogue with States and other stakeholders, and bringing greater clarity to the application of international human rights norms and standards in relation to SOGI.
 
The discrimination and violence that persons face on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity is of course also fundamentally linked with other forms of discriminatory repression: on the basis of HIV status, disability, race, occupation, sex, gender, class, language and many others. Understanding and addressing the root causes of discrimination and oppression of all persons is at the core of any response, and accordingly civil society is pushing for the resolution to include language that recognizes and gives effect to this fundamental principle.
 
 What can I do? 
 
The position of most States will be determined by their Foreign Ministries in capitals. Please take action today to urge your government to support the resolutionOnly Members of the Council (listed below) may vote, although non-Member States can still “cosponsor” the resolution to demonstrate their support.
 
Is my government a member of the Human Rights Council?
 
The current voting members of the UN Human Rights Council are:
(see end of this message for their positions on SOGI issues at the UN)
 
·       From Africa: Algeria, Botswana, Burundi, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Togo. 
·       From Asia Pacific: Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Maldives, Mongolia, Philippines, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Viet Nam. 
·       Eastern Europe: Albania, Georgia, Latvia, Russian Federation, Slovenia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia 
·       From Latin America & the Caribbean: Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of) 
·       From Western Europe and Other States: Belgium, France, Germany, Netherlands, Portugal, Switzerland, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
 
What if my government is not a Council member? How can they support the resolution?
 
If your State is not a member of the Human Rights Council, it may still co-sponsor the resolution. “Co-sponsorship” means they may endorse the resolution to demonstrate their support, even though they cannot vote.  The more cross-regional cosponsors the resolution has, the more it will encourage voting Members to also demonstrate their support. Your state can co-sponsor the resolution simply by informing – through diplomatic channels – one of the six Latin American States (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Uruguay) that it wishes to do so.
 
What is my country’s position on SOGI issues at the UN?
 
We are listing at the end of this message an overview of the position on SOGI issues of all voting Council Members. Other States which have supported previous SOGI initiatives may also be approached for co sponsorship.
 
How do I contact my government?
 
  NGOs and people in-country are in the best position to decide who to contact in their country.
 
   Perhaps the most important contact is your government’s Foreign Ministry in your capital.  It is the Foreign Ministry in your own country, which will ultimately instruct your government representatives how to vote. It may also be worth contacting SOGI-friendly Embassies in your capital to encourage them to speak to your Foreign Ministry. Other ministries in your government may also influence the decision of the Foreign Ministry, so if you have connections with, for example, the President’s office, the Justice Ministry etc these could all also be helpful.
 
● Contact details for the Foreign Ministry of each country can be found at: http://www.ediplomat.com/dc/foreign_ministries.htm
 
  It is also useful to copy any message to your country’s Ambassador in Geneva. Contact details for the Geneva missions of each State can be found at: http://tinyurl.com/t2cwt
 
What should I tell them?
 
·       Backgrounder with more information about the resolution is attached, which you can share with your government. Point out that an Independent Expert would focus systematic and much-needed attention to help address violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity and related issues, while also emphasizing that an Independent Expert would also engage in constructive dialogue, share good practicesbuild awareness and provide support to governments open to addressing these issues. 
 
·       If your government has abstained on these issues in the past, encourage them to support the resolution.  If your government has opposed previous consideration of SOGI issues, encourage them to support the resolution – or at least to abstain or refrain from voting against human rights. If your government has supported previous SOGI initiatives, encourage them to co-sponsor the text and ask them to urge other States to also vote in favor of the resolution. 
 
·       Whatever your government’s position, urge them to oppose any procedural blocking tactics that could be used to prevent the resolution being considered on its merits. 
 
·       You know your own country best. Feel free to tailor this information to the context of your country or region, while maintaining a constructive approach. 
·       Where possible and appropriate, work in coalition with other civil society, both LGBT civil society and more widely. A united NGO approach to your government is often strongest. 
 
·       It is a good idea to ask for a specific response to your request. You may also wish to request an urgent meeting to discuss the matter further.
 
Questions or further information?
 
Please keep us informed of your country’s response so that we can support your advocacy and follow-up here in Geneva. NGOs from diverse regions are closely monitoring the initiative, and may be reached at: sogiexpertnow@gmail.com
 
Please act today! Thank you for your work to support human rights protections on these grounds.
 
List of voting Human Rights Council Members and their past positions on SOGI issues at the UN:
 
Africa
·      Algeria (has consistently opposed SOGI recognition)
·      Botswana (expressed support for African Commission SOGI resolution at HRC26; spoke against SOGI-related violence at High Level Segment of the HRC in March 2016)
·      Burundi (abstained on SOGI inclusion in extrajudicial executions resolution)
·      Congo (has opposed SOGI recognition)
·      Côte d’Ivoire (did not vote on SOGI inclusion in executions resolution, and abstained on a SOGI-related NGO ECOSOC-status vote)
·      Ethiopia (abstained on SOGI inclusion in executions resolution)
·      Ghana (voted against SOGI resolution in 2011 and abstained on SOGI inclusion in in EJE resolution)
·      Kenya (abstained on SOGI inclusion in executions resolution)
·      Morocco (has opposed SOGI recognition)
·      Namibia (abstained in the 2011 SOGI resolution)
·      Nigeria (has opposed SOGI recognition)
·      South Africa (lead State and cosponsor of SOGI resolution in 2011; endorsed 2011 SOGI joint statement; voted in favour of the 2014 SOGI resolution)
·      Togo (abstained on SOGI inclusion in extrajudicial executions resolution)
 
Asia:
·      Bangladesh (voted against SOGI resolution in 2011 and against inclusion of SOGI in extrajudicial executions resolution)
·      China (abstained on SOGI resolutions in 2011 and 2014)
·      India (voted in favour of SOGI in extrajudicial executions resolution & ECOSOC accreditation of LGBTI NGOs; abstained on SOGI resolutions in 2011 and 2014)
·      Indonesia (has opposed SOGI recognition, but has some domestic protections for LGBT persons)
·      Kyrgyzstan (abstained on SOGI inclusion in extrajudicial executions resolution and did not vote on SOGI resolution in 2011)
·      Maldives (opposed SOGI inclusion in executions resolution in 2012, abstained in 2010)
·      Mongolia (voted in favour of SOGI inclusion in extrajudicial executions resolution)
·      Philippines (abstained on SOGI inclusion in extrajudicial executions resolution & ECOSOC votes, voted in favor of SOG resolution 2014, has expressed openness in GA discussions)
·      Qatar (voted against SOGI resolution in 2011 and against SOGI inclusion in extrajudicial executions resolution)
·      Republic of Korea (voted in favour of SOGI inclusion in extrajudicial executions resolution and in favor of SOGI resolutions 2014 and 2011)
·      Saudi Arabia (has consistently opposed SOGI recognition)
·      United Arab Emirates (has consistently opposed SOGI recognition)
·      Viet Nam (voted in favor of SOGI resolution in 2014, accepted UPR recommendations on SOGI)
 
Central and Eastern Europe:
·      Albania (voted in favor of SOGI resolutions in 2011 and 2014, voted in favor of SOGI inclusion in extrajudicial executions)
·      Georgia (voted in favour of SOGI inclusion in extrajudicial executions resolution)
·      Latvia (co-sponsored and voted in favor of SOGI resolution in 2014 and in favor of SOGI inclusion in extrajudicial executions)
·      Russian Federation (has consistently opposed SOGI recognition)
·      The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (voted in favor of SOGI resolution in 2014)
 
Latin America and Caribbean:
·      Bolivia (Plurinational State of) (co-sponsored and voted in favor of SOGI resolutions in 2011 and 2014)
·      Cuba (voted in favor of SOGI resolutions in 2011 and 2014)
·      El Salvador (voted in favor of SOGI inclusion in extrajudicial executions; however also leads on another resolution (Protection of the Family) that opposes SOGI-inclusive language)
·      Mexico (voted in favor of SOGI resolutions in 2011 and 2014; is a member of the core group of States bringing the resolution)
·      Panama (voted in favor of SOGI inclusion in extrajudicial executions)
·      Paraguay (voted in favor of SOGI inclusion in extrajudicial executions)
·      Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of) (co-sponsor of SOGI resolution in 2011, voted in favor of SOGI resolution in 2014)
 
Western Group:
·      Belgium (co-sponsored SOGI resolutions in 2014 and voted in favor in 2011)
·      France (co-sponsored and voted in favor of SOGI resolutions in 2011 and 2014)
·      Germany (co-sponsored SOGI resolution in 2011 and voted in favor in 2014)
·      Netherlands (co-sponsored SOGI resolutions in 2011 and 2014)
·      Portugal (co-sponsored SOGI resolutions in 2011 and 2014)
·      Switzerland (co-sponsored SOGI resolutions in 2011 and 2014, and voted in favor in 2011)
·      United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (co-sponsored and voted in favor of SOGI resolutions in 2011 and 2014,