African Countries Oppose New UN Gay Rights Envoy. World Bank Appoints LGBT Promoter

Written by Staff

African countries have drafted a resolution calling for a new U.N. investigator to be suspended who was established to investigate human rights violations against lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender and intersex people.

A 54-member Africa group says concentrating on gay rights detracts from other issues including racism, DW reported.

International law professor Vitit Muntarbhorn of Thailand was appointed in September by the U.N. Human Rights Council. The resolution was adopted by a 23-18 vote with 6 abstentions, reflecting the deep divisions internationally on gay rights, Washington Post reported.

The U.N. has been trying to improve the rights of the LGBT community but has repeatedly been opposed by member countries, especially in the Middle East, Africa, China and Russia.

The resolution has a very good chance of passing, Buzz Feed reported. There were no dissenting members of the 54-member Africa group, which includes South Africa, the only African country to allow same-sex marriage. The resolution needs a simple majority — 97 votes — to pass.

Botswana’s ambassador told a General Assembly human rights committee on Friday that the council should not be looking into sexual orientation and gender identity.
“Those two notions are not and should not be linked to existing international human rights instruments,” said Charles Ntwaagae, according to DW.

Muntarbhorn’s three-year mandate to fight anti-gay crimes was approved despite objections from some Muslim countries after research showed hundreds of LGBTI people had died and thousands were injured in recent years due to their sexuality.

Muntarbhorn is expected to visit countries and and bring human rights violations to the attention of U.N. members.

Almost 40 percent of U.N. members — 73 countries — still have laws making homosexuality a crime, DW reported. In Africa, 33 countries have anti-gay laws including Uganda, Nigeria, Sudan and Mauritania.

The World Bank last week appointed Clifton Cortez as its first adviser on sexual orientation and gender identity, according to Bay Area Reporter. Cortez’s job is to promote LGBTQ issues in the organization’s development work:

The job was created because the bank wants to solidify its commitment to LGBT people and curb discrimination against them in the 136 countries in which it operates, Reuters reported.

U.S. President Obama’s push for LGBT rights has caused a shift in attitude toward LGBT people around the world, according to Bay Area Reporter. Kenya and other African countries have backed down on drafting anti-LGBT laws. Seychelles has decriminalized homosexuality. Marriage equality has been passed in 20 countries. Pride events have sprung up in more cities around the world.

Cortez has worked for the U.N. Development Programme for the last six years and for the U.S. Agency for International Development before that. He has a law degree from the Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C.

Based in Washington, D.C., World Bank lends money and does research  in developing countries. This year, it collected data on the socioeconomic status of LGBT people globally and launched several research projects on LGBT discrimination.

From DW:

In February the African Group, the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the 25-member “Group of Friends of the Family,” led by Egypt, Belarus and Qatar, protested the launch of six U.N. stamps promoting LGBTI equality.

Then a group of 51 Muslim states blocked 11 gay and transgender organizations from officially attending a high-level U.N. meeting in June on ending AIDS, sparking a protest by the U.S., Canada and the European Union.