On Wednesday, 7th March 2012, the Human Rights Council in Geneva held the first-ever UN debate on violence and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. The panel discussion was sponsored by the delegation of South Africa and Brazil. During the panel discussion top United Nations officials urged Member States to tackle violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation, adding that countries cannot continue to overlook such grave violations of human rights.
Irina Karla Bacci : Vice-President, National Council for LGBT Persons, Brazil
Laurence Helfer : Co-Director, Center for International and Comparative Law, Duke University, USA
Hina Jilani : chair, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan; former Special Representative of the Secretary-General on human rights defenders
Hans Ytterberg : Chairperson of the Council of Europe Expert Committee on Discrimination on Grounds of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
The debate opened with video address from the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
The delegates from Pakistan (spoke on behalf of the OIC), Senegal (spoke on behalf of ‘almost all’ members of the African Group), Mauritania (spoke on half of the members of the Arab Group) and from the Russian Federation expressed their concerns about the implementation of ‘controversial concepts’ such as sexual orientation and gender identity in the international Human Rights legal system. The decision of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) not to participate in the debate, aside from the delegates from Pakistan, was criticised by most states.
Human Rights Council – Statement by United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay to the Panel on ending violence and discrimination against individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity at the Human Rights Council 19th Session