Extrajudicial Executions Resolution at the UN Keeps Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Language

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media contact:  Rashima Kwatra, rkwatra@outrightinternational.org+1 (917) 859-7555

18 November 2016

States Vote to Maintain SOGI Language in Extrajudicial Executions Resolution at the United Nations

(New York) Today, the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has voted to maintain language on sexual orientation and, gender identity (SOGI) in resolution A/C.3/71/L.38, on ‘Extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions’. The resolution, which is introduced biennially in the Third Committee, urges States to protect the right to life of all people and calls upon States to investigate killings based on discriminatory grounds.

“People are targeted and killed everyday because of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. States voted today not only to commit to continue protecting LGBTIQ people from unjust harm and violence, but also to investigate and address these cruel and arbitrary killings. States affirmed that our lives and our rights matter,” commented Jessica Stern, Executive Director, OutRight Action International, in response to the vote.

The government of Uzbekistan, representing the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), introduced an amendment against the resolution in what was a “veiled attempt to remove the list that included SOGI from the resolution,” according to Siri May, OutRight Action International United Nations Program Coordinator. The OIC amendment lost with the following result: in favor 60, against 84, abstentions 27, but the margin of votes to keep language explicitly mentioning sexual orientation and gender identity as a category of protection has gotten closer since last year. The EJEs resolution, with inclusive language, was successfully passed today with 106 votes in favor, 0 against, and 69 abstentions and absences.

The OIC amendment suggested replacing an extensive, detailed list of protected categories with the vague sentence, “and killings committed for discriminatory reasons on any basis whatsoever” in operative paragraph 6(b) of the resolution. In addition to removing the category of SOGI, the amendment also proposed to remove specific protections for:

“...racially motivated violence leading to the death of the victim, killings of persons belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities or because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, killings of persons affected by terrorism or hostage-taking or living under foreign occupation, killings of refugees, internally displaced persons, migrants, street children or members of indigenous communities, killings of persons for reasons related to their activities as human rights defenders, lawyers, journalists or demonstrators, killings committed in the name of passion or in the name of honour and killings committed for discriminatory reasons on any basis.”

In 2010, an amendment was proposed by the African Group in the UNGA to strip the resolution of reference to”sexual orientation.” Initially, the Third Committee voted to remove the reference, prompting a massive mobilization by civil society including through action alerts issued by OutRight, then known as the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission. In a dramatic turn of events, the resolution was introduced to the full General Assembly several months later, which voted to reinstate the language, with 93 votes in favor, 55 against, 27 abstentions and 17 absent.

“Homophobia and transphobia have no place in our society. States must do their part to safeguard the rights of all people, so we can live a life free from violence and discrimination” concluded Stern.

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