GENEVA, Switzerland — The Human Rights Council in Geneva today held the first-ever formal UN inter-governmental debate on violence and discrimination against LGBT people.
The panel discussion, sponsored by South Africa and Brazil, was moderated by the Ambassador of South Africa and featured panelists from Brazil, Pakistan, Sweden and the United States.
The panel arose out of the UN Human Rights Council resolution 17/19 (June 2011) expressing “grave concern” at acts of violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. It requested the High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a report on “how international human rights law can be used to end violence and related human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity”, and called for a panel discussion at this (19th) session of the Human Rights Council to discuss the findings of the report in a “constructive, informed and transparent dialogue.”
Activists from all continents gathered in Geneva for this historic moment, and others watched from their computers around the world. A video message from UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, opened the event and set the tone for the members of the Human Rights Council, but also spoke directly to LGBT persons, stating:
“To those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, let me say: You are not alone. Your struggle for an end to violence and discrimination is a shared struggle. Any attack on you is an attack on the universal values the United Nations and I have sworn to defend and uphold. Today, I stand with you … and I call upon all countries and people to stand with you,too.”