African countries revive bid to block UN LGBT expert

2016-12-18 09:03
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New York - African countries are reviving a bid at the United Nations to block the appointment of the first-ever UN expert tasked with investigating violence and discrimination against LGBT minorities.

Burkina Faso on Thursday circulated a letter to the UN General Assembly on behalf of African countries urging support for its demand to hold talks on the appointment.

The measure is scheduled to come up for a vote at the General Assembly on Monday.

The UN Human Rights Council in September appointed international law professor Vitit Muntarbhorn of Thailand to investigate abuses against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people worldwide.

African countries failed last month to push for the adoption of a draft resolution demanding talks on the legality of the new expert's mandate during a vote in the assembly's human rights committee.

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.

In the letter to UN member states, the African countries criticized Muntarbhorn after he set out goals for his mission in an address last month, including decriminalisation.

"This shows clearly that the mandate is already being abused by the independent expert to promote legally baseless new rights that are not internationally recognized," the letter said.

Muntarbhorn, who began work as the UN expert last month, has been appointed for three years.

He will carry out country visits, raise allegations of LGBT rights violations with governments and work to protect rights defenders.

Read more on:    africa  |  gay rights

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