United Nations recognizes LGBT rights for first time ever

June 21, 2011

The United Nations last week officially endorsed the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) people when the U.N. Human Rights Council narrowly passed (23-19) a resolution that expressed “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.” 

The resolution, introduced by South Africa, creates a formal U.N. process to document human rights abuses against LGBT people, commisions a study on such abuses to be completed by December 2011, and calls for a panel discussion next spring to discuss the findings.

Those in favor of the resolution included the United States, the European Union, Brazil and several other Latin American countries. The White House hailed the resolution as “a significant milestone in the long struggle for equality, and the beginning of a universal recognition that (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) persons are endowed with the same inalienable rights – and entitled to the same protections – as all human beings.” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the resolution “affirms that human rights are universal. People cannot be excluded from protection simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The United States will continue to stand up for human rights wherever there is inequality and we will seek more commitments from countries to join this important resolution.”

Those against the resolution included Russia, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria and Pakistan — mostly members that oppose LGBT rights and/or see the resolution leading to potential criticism of their laws by Westerners. However, Boris Dittrich at the Human Rights Watch noted that it was important South Africa took the lead on the resolution, because other non-Western countries are now less able to claim the West was imposing its values.

Click here to read more on this story from the Associated Press.