UN appoints first expert on LGBT issues
1 October, 2016
The United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council has named Thailand’s Vitit Muntarbhorn, an international human rights expert, as its first independent expert to investigate the violence and discrimination faced by the LGBT community.
In his newest role, Vitit will have a three-year mandate to look into abuses against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) people.
Vitit, who is an international law professor at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, has served on several UN bodies, including the council’s Commission of Inquiry on Syria, and was also the special rapporteur on North Korea and on child prostitution and child pornography.
Previously, he co-chaired a meeting of experts that adopted the Yogyakarta Principles on the application of international human rights law in relation to violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
The UN agreed on the LGBT-focused role in June, after the 47-member council voted to adopt the resolution, with 23 nations in favor and 18 against with six abstentions.
Human Rights Watch’s Geneva director, John Fisher, said on Friday that Vitit’s appointment “made history” and “will bring much-needed attention to human rights violations against LGBT people in all regions of the world.”
In a comment to Reuters on the newly-created role, the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) said it would help give justice to LGBTI people who have been attacked, abused or discriminated against.
“Never has there been a more urgent need to safeguard the human rights of LGBTI persons around the world,” said ILGA executive director Renato Sabbadini in a statement to the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
In a 2015 report on crimes against LGBTI people, the UN found that hundreds of LGBTI people have been killed and thousands more injured over the past few years, in attacks ranging from knife attacks to stoning.