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Africa Fails To Block UN Gay Expert-queerlife

Africa Fails To Block UN Gay Expert

Over at the UN headquarters a bid by African countries to delay the appointment of the first-ever United Nations expert tasked with investigating LGBT rights abuses worldwide was defeated earlier this week on Monday.

A draft resolution demanding talks on the legality of the new expert’s mandate had been put forward by the African group of countries in the General Assembly’s human rights committee.

The measure, however, was gutted of its key demand when a group of Latin American countries presented an amendment deleting the request to delay the appointment.

The amendment was adopted by a vote of 84 to 77, with 17 abstentions.

Amazingly enough South Africa broke ranks with its fellow African nations and voted in favor of the Latin American amendment, while European countries, the United States, Canada and South American countries also voted to maintain the expert in his post.

Somalia and Rwanda abstained. China, Russia, Iran and Saudi Arabia were among the countries that supported the African bid to suspend the appointment.

The new amended draft resolution – without the suspension of the LGBT rights expert – was adopted by a vote of 94 to 3, with 80 abstentions.

At the General Assembly, the African bid was led by Botswana, which argued that sexual orientation and gender identity were not defined under international human rights law.

“The African group is wondering which international legal instrument defines the concept of sexual orientation and gender identity,” said Botswana’s UN ambassador Charles Ntwaagae.

“These notions are not enshrined in any international human rights instrument,” he said.

A total of 73 countries – almost 40% of all 193 UN members – still have laws on their books making homosexuality a crime.

In Africa alone, 33 countries have anti-gay laws including Uganda, Nigeria, Sudan and Mauritania.

The measure is now expected to go to the General Assembly for a vote, but it is unlikely that the bid to block the LGBT expert will be revived.

** Source: AFP **