India abstains at UN vote on LGBT Independent Expert

July 01, 2016 12:48 pm | Updated December 04, 2021 11:12 pm IST - NEW DELHI

India avoided taking a position on the need to end discrimination based on sexual orientation at the Human Rights Council of the UN, as the Supreme Court is yet to “pronounce” on the issue of rights of LGBT persons, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said on Friday.

The MEA’s clarification came a day after India abstained from a voting at the UNHRC on a resolution to set up the office of Independent Expert to end discrimination against LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transexual) persons.

“The issue of LGBT rights in India is a matter being considered by the Supreme Court under a batch of curative petitions filed by various institutions and organisations. The Supreme Court is yet to pronounce on this issue. As such, We had to take this into account in terms of our vote on the third UN resolution to institutionalise the office of an Independent Expert to prevent discrimination against LGBT persons,” said Vikas Swarup, MEA spokesperson.

The move to create this special office in support for the LGBT community follows the >June 12 mass killing at an Orlando night club in Florida.

The resolution which was backed by the Latin American member states was opposed by Russia and the Islamic countries as India, Philippines and South Africa abstained.

The official for the newly created post of Independent Expert will shortly be appointed for a three-year period and will serve to fight challenges faced by LGBT persons across the world. The debate on the resolution brought out sharp differences among member countries of the Human Rights Council (HRC) as several countries cited cultural traditions against supporting the move. However, the move to have the office of the Independent Expert was supported by 628 NGOs from 151 countries, informed The International Lesbian, Gay, and Trans and Intersex Association.

India has been cited by several human rights reports as one of the countries where the rights of LGBT persons are yet to be secure.

Introspecting on the opposition to the resolution, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in an official statement: “We are disappointed that several hostile amendments to the resolution were adopted, but we remain steadfast in our support for the resolution and its goals, despite these unfortunate changes.” The move at Geneva comes after an initiative on June 17 when diplomats posted in 27 embassies in Delhi celebrated the LGBTI “Pride Month”.

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