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African nations fail in bid to block LGBT expert

Sergio Paulo Pinheiro (left), Chairman of the Commission of Inquiry on the human rights situation in the Syrian Arab Republic and Vitit (right) member of the Commission during a press conference, 17 March 2015
 Vitit Muntarbhorn (right) will lead probe into situation in Africa

United Nations, United States | AFP |

A bid by African countries to delay the appointment of the first-ever UN expert on LGBT rights was defeated on Monday, clearing the way for the investigations of anti-gay violence.

A draft resolution demanding talks on the legality of the new expert’s mandate had been put forward by the African group of countries in the General Assembly’s human rights committee.

The measure however was gutted of its key demand when a group of Latin American countries presented an amendment deleting the request to delay the appointment.

The amendment was adopted by a vote of 84 to 77, with 17 abstentions.

South Africa broke ranks and voted in favor of the amendment, while European countries, the United States, Canada and South American countries also voted to maintain the expert in his post.

Somalia and Rwanda abstained. China, Russia, Iran and Saudi Arabia were among the countries that supported the African bid to suspend the appointment.

The UN Human Rights Council in September appointed international law professor Vitit Muntarbhorn of Thailand to investigate abuses against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people worldwide.

That appointment was agreed following a stormy debate that also saw several African states vote against the decision.

The measure is now expected to go to the General Assembly for a vote, but it is unlikely that the bid to block the LGBT expert will be revived.

A total of 73 countries — almost 40 percent of all UN members — still have laws on their books making homosexuality a crime.

In Africa alone, 33 countries have anti-gay laws including Uganda, Nigeria, Sudan and Mauritania.


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