The United Nations on June 17 adopted its first-ever resolution in support of LGBT human rights.
It says, in part: "The Human Rights Council ... Expressing grave concern at acts of violence and discrimination, in all regions of the world, committed against individuals because of their sexual orientation and gender identity 1. Requests the High Commissioner to commission a study to be finalised by December 2011, to document discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity, in all regions of the world, and how international human rights law can be used to end violence and related human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity; 2. Decides to convene a panel discussion during the 19th session of the Human Rights Council, informed by the facts contained in the study commissioned by the High Commissioner and to have constructive, informed and transparent dialogue on the issue of discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity; 3. Decides also that the panel will also discuss the appropriate follow-up to the recommendations of the study commissioned by the High Commissioner; 4. Decides to remain seized of this priority issue."
The vote in the Human Rights Council was 23-19 with 3 abstentions. Voting for the resolution were Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Ecuador, France, Guatemala, Hungary, Japan, Mauritius, Mexico, Norway, Poland, Slovakia, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, the United States and Uruguay.
Voting against it were Angola, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Cameroon, Djibouti, Gabon, Ghana, Jordan, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Moldova, Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Senegal and Uganda. Burkina Faso, China and Zambia abstained, and Kyrgyzstan and Libya were not present.
"This marks a significant milestone in the long struggle for equality, and the beginning of a universal recognition that LGBT persons are endowed with the same inalienable rights -- and entitled to the same protections -- as all human beings," said President Barack Obama. "The United States stands proudly with those nations that are standing up to intolerance, discrimination, and homophobia. Advancing equality for LGBT persons should be the work of all peoples and all nations. LGBT persons are entitled to equal treatment, equal protection, and the dignity that comes with being full members of our diverse societies. As the United Nations begins to codify and enshrine the promise of equality for LGBT persons, the world becomes a safer, more respectful, and more humane place for all people."
The resolution was co-sponsored by 40 nations, not all of which sit on the Human Rights Council. They were Albania, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Honduras, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Timor-Leste, the United Kingdom, the United States and Uruguay.
"That we are celebrating the passage of a U.N. resolution about human rights violations on the basis of sexual orientation is remarkable; however, the fact that gender identity is explicitly named truly makes this pivotal moment one to rejoice in," said Justus Eisfeld, co-director of Global Action for Trans Equality.