United Nations human rights chief briefs ministerial meeting on LGBT rights

Those present included the U.S. Secretary of State, the foreign ministers of Argentina, Brazil, Croatia, the Netherlands and Norway, the French minister for development cooperation and senior officials from Japan, New Zealand and the European Union, as well as the executive directors of Human Rights Watch and the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission.
In her remarks, the High Commissioner highlighted the remarkable progress made in the past decade in securing the human rights of members of the LGBT community. “Many countries have embarked on historic reforms – strengthening anti-discrimination laws, combating hate crime against LGBT people and sensitizing public opinion,” she noted.
However, in spite of advances, serious challenges remain. “Not a week goes by without my Office receiving reports of brutal violence and intimidation, police harassment and widespread discriminatory treatment affecting LGBT people around the world. Those who speak out in defence of the rights of LGBT people risk persecution and assault and even, in some countries, legal sanctions”, she said.
Ms. Pillay reminded Ministers that in some places, conditions for LGBT people were deteriorating, not improving, citing as examples regressive new laws proposed or adopted in the past twelve months in several Eastern European and African countries.
The High Commissioner spoke about the resistance she sometimes meets when she raises the need for measures to protect the rights of LGBT people with Government representatives. “They say that same-sex relationships and transgender identities go against their culture, religious beliefs or traditional values. My answer is that human rights are universal,” she said.
“Our campaign on behalf of marginalized communities will meet resistance, even opposition. We must not be discouraged. We must stay engaged. Let us keep voicing our concerns, let us keep finding new allies, sharing good practice and standing fast alongside local human rights defenders on the front lines of this struggle.” the High Commissioner said.
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