Despite Hostility From Islamic Countries, U.N. Votes To Create LGBT-Rights Watchdog

An independent expert will report on “violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity."

The United Nations Human Rights Council voted this week to institute its first LGBT-rights watchdog, despite opposition from Pakistan and other member states. The resolution passed in a vote of 23 to 18, with six abstentions.

An independent expert will be appointed to monitor and report on “violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity,” according to the resolution.

The measure marks the UN’s new emphasis on LGBT issues: In 2015, the United Nations Security Council convened a special meeting to discuss the threat the Islamic State poses to LGBT people in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere.

But Buzzfeed reports that opponents of the new resolution—which included Pakistan and nearly all the other countries in the 56-member Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC) “succeeded in adding several amendments that framed the LGBT rights proposal as a cultural imposition intending to override local values and sovereignty.”

The amendments called for respect for local customs and values, and condemned attempts to “impose notions pertaining to social matters, including private individual conduct.”

In May, the IOC blocked LGBT organizations from participating in a high-level meeting at the United Nations focused on ending AIDS.

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.