Human Rights Council: Combat LGBT discrimination and reprisals

10.06.2014

Addressing the UN Human Rights Council for the last time in her term, High Commissioner Navi Pillay, has called on States to welcome and support the work of civil society activists and UN human rights mechanisms, saying they make an invaluable contribution to development and the resolution of conflict.

(Geneva) - Addressing the UN Human Rights Council for the last time in her term, High Commissioner Navi Pillay, has called on States to welcome and support the work of civil society activists and UN human rights mechanisms, saying they make an invaluable contribution to development and the resolution of conflict.

'Human rights violations are among the root causes of every type of instability and conflict, which means that every State has an interest in detecting gaps in its human rights protection,' Ms Pillay said.

The High Commissioner's statement drew particular attention to the work of human rights defenders and advocates in 'detecting gaps and assisting with solutions', saying that their role is to 'speak truth to power; to confront privilege and entrenched hierarchy with an unshakeable belief in human dignity, equality and freedom.' 

'Effective human rights advocacy must necessarily open a Pandora’s box of hidden abuses. It does so to let in light and air, so that work may begin to ensure better governance and justice,' she said.

Responding to the statement, which opened the 26th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, ISHR commended the 'invaluable work of the High Commissioner and her dedicated staff.'

Addressing the Council, ISHR Director Phil Lynch said, 'High Commissioner, throughout your term you have sounded the alarm bell on abuses, provided protection to victims, and pursued accountability for perpetrators. We thank you. We will miss you. And we look forward to your successor following the outstanding example you have set.'

ISHR's opening statement to the Council also addressed a number of other themes, including in relation to LGBT rights and the protection of human rights defenders against intimidation and reprisals, as extracted below:

Discrimination and violence against people on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity remain a scourge.

We join the High Commissioner in welcoming the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights resolution on this subject. The time has now come for this Council to follow up on its own Resolution 17/19 by mandating a special procedure, or establishing a process, to systematically monitor and report on violations against LGBT persons and to advise States as to how best to respect and protect their rights.

The High Commissioner’s statement referred to hate speech 'being on the road to gross human rights violations'.

This is particularly the case when hate speech is licensed by law. In this respect, we are alarmed at the reported increase in harassment and attacks against LGBT persons and their advocates in Nigeria, Uganda and Russia since the adoption of anti-homosexuality laws in those States. We implore other States which may be considering such bills – such as Kenya, Tanzania, Liberia and Kazakhstan – to desist from doing so.

Madame High Commissioner, civil society activists and human rights defenders continue to experience intimidation and reprisals for engaging with the UN’s human rights mechanisms.

Since the last session alone we have received reports of reprisals against human rights defenders from Vietnam for their engagement with the UPR, and Russia and China for their engagement with the treaty bodies. We reiterate our call for the Presidency and Bureau, the Council itself, and all Member States to discharge their legal obligations to ensure that all persons can exercise the right to unhindered communication with the UN, and to protect against, investigate, and promote accountability for reprisals when they occur.

Madame High Commissioner, we thank you again for your outstanding support and service.

ENDS

Contact: Phil Lynch, Director, International Service for Human Rights, on p.lynch@ishr.ch or + 41 76 708 4738

Category:

Region
  • Africa
Topic
  • Human rights defenders
  • LGBT rights
  • Reprisals and intimidation
Mechanism
  • Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
  • UN Human Rights Council
  • African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights
Country
  • Kazakhstan
  • Kenya
  • Liberia
  • Nigeria
  • Russia
  • Tanzania
  • Uganda