African Countries Demand The U.N. Get Rid Of Independent LGBT Watchdog

Being gay is a crime in 73 countries.

In June, the U.N. appointed Vitit Muntarbhorn to investigate abuses against LGBT and intersex people around the world.

But on Friday, representatives from several African countries called for Muntarbhorn’s position to be suspended.

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK, NY, UNITED STATES - 2016/02/22: Commission member Vitit Muntarbhorn addresses the General Assembly. Members of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria including Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, Chair of the Commission, and Commission member Vitit Muntarbhorn delivered one of the Commissions periodic reports to an informal meeting of the United Nations General Assembly at UN Headquarters in New York City. (Photo by Albin Lohr-Jones/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Albin Lohr-Jones/Pacific Press/LightRocket

The member states released a draft of a resolution questioning the legality of Muntarbhorn’s role, claiming they were concerned “non-internationally agreed notions such as sexual orientation and gender identity are given attention, to the detriment of issues of paramount importance, such as the right to development and the racism agenda.”

Representing the 54-member Africa group, Botswana’s U.N. Ambassador Charles Ntwaagae said sexual orientation and gender identity “are not and should not be linked to existing international human rights instruments.”

The resolution will have to be voted on in committee, and then by the General Assembly, to pass.

United Nations Building

While the United Nations has stepped up efforts to address the needs of LGBT people worldwide, efforts from countries that stigmatize homosexuality have hamstrung their work:

In 2014, Saudi Arabia, Russia, China and Iran were among the nations that tried to stop the U.N. from recognizing the same-sex marriages of all employees. This year, 51 Muslim states blocked gay organizations from officially attending a high-level U.N. meeting on AIDS.

For more on international LGBT issues visit Logo’s Global Ally page.

Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.