The U.N. Human Rights Council today passed a resolution opposing violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Contrary to some predictions, the proposal, pushed by Latin American countries, did not face united opposition either from all African nations or all countries with anti-gay laws.
The resolution reinforces a resolution on the same subject, proposed by South Africa, that the council passed in 2011. It asks the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights to gather and publish information on how best to overcome discrimination and violence.
Seven amendments to gut or water down the resolution were defeated.
In a photo showing council members’ votes on the proposal, the following African countries registered no opposition to it: South Africa (voting yes, contrary to some supporters’ fears), Burkina Faso, Congo, Namibia and Sierra Leone (each abstaining).
The following countries with anti-gay laws registered no opposition to it: India, Namibia and Sierra Leone (abstaining).
Ivory Coast voted against the resolution, despite local activists’ plea to the government to support it.
South Africa’s permanent representative to the United Nations, Abdul Samad Minty, said of the vote in favor of the resolution:
“The South African government believes that we as a country will benefit from such a report. Despite our enabling laws, people in our country are still subjected to discrimination and violence based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. The scale of the violence has resulted in our Justice Department establishing a hate crimes unit to deal specifically with this kind of discrimination and violence.
“The same applies as to why South Africa could not support the proposed paragraph (pp9), which referred to existing national laws, customs or beliefs. This clause is not relevant to a resolution that will look at the development of a best practice report on measures to reduce discrimination and violence, which may have to look at the role that policies, laws, religion and customs may play in the very issue that we are trying to address.
“The essence of this resolution is to help us all understand what we can do better to protect the lives and dignity of all our citizens.”