UN wants to better protect homosexuals © Marcus Brandt
UN wants to better protect homosexuals from discrimination and violence. UN Human Rights Council created office of independent expert to monitor respect for rights of sexual minorities. Quiet criticism comes from the Vatican.
A total of 23 Council member countries, including Germany, voted to appoint the expert for a three-year term. 18 countries voted against, including Algeria, China, Indonesia, Kenya, Russia and Saudi Arabia. Six states abstained.
The draft was introduced by Latin American countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Mexico. The new commissioner is to prepare reports for the UN Human Rights Council and the UN General Assembly. In it, he is expected to outline whether and how member states are meeting their international obligations to protect sexual minorities.
Commissioner still unknown
The UN has yet to appoint the commissioner. The expert is to raise awareness of the problem of discrimination and violence against sexual minorities and identify the reasons for attacks. Mandate lasts three years.
Human rights organizations such as the International Service for Human Rights welcomed the decision. Gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transsexuals are increasingly victims of hate and violence and must be better protected. There are 47 countries represented on the UN Human Rights Council. The body monitors human rights compliance but cannot impose sanctions.
Criticism from the Vatican
The Vatican criticized the decision. Wanting to protect a "special group of rights for a specific group of people" is contrary to the principle of equality of all people, the Holy See's representation in Geneva explained in response to a question from the Catholic News Agency.
The Catholic Church is against any form of discrimination, stressed the Secretary of the Vatican Mission to the United Nations in Geneva, Richard Gyhra. Behind the resolution, however, is apparently the intention of Western states to exert influence on poorer countries, for example in Africa. Thus, for example, development aid could be made dependent on expert opinions – which are not legally binding in themselves.
The Holy See has only observer status at the United Nations. According to Gyhra, however, he tried to influence voting nations, as did other states that are not among the 47 members of the Human Rights Council.