Ten Ways the United Nations has Protected LGBTQ Human Rights

by HRC Staff

The United Nations has been crucial to advancing and protecting the human rights of LGBTQ people

The United Nations General Assembly convenes this week for its annual meeting. U.S. President Donald Trump is scheduled to deliver his first speech to the General Assembly tomorrow morning. While U.N. reform is on this year's agenda, we must celebrate the organization's critical role in protecting the world’s most vulnerable people and fostering global stability since its establishment after World War II. It has also has been crucial to advancing and protecting the human rights of LGBTQ people

Here are 10 ways the UN has stepped up to support LGBTQ people in the past decade:

  1. In 2011, the U.N. Human Rights Council passed a wide-ranging resolution on human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity, expressing concern about violence towards LGBTQ people and commissioning the first-ever U.N. study focused on LGBTQ issues.
  2. In 2012, the U.N. General Assembly (UNGA) passed a resolution on extrajudicial killings that included crimes motivated by the victim’s sexual orientation and gender identity. This was the first time that was mentioned in a UNGA-passed resolution.
  3. In July 2013, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights launched the U.N.’s Free & Equal campaign to promote understanding of the human rights of LGBTQ people. The campaign has reached an estimated two billion people through traditional and social media, and generated a stream of widely shared materials – including these powerful videos.
  4. In August 2015, the U.N. Security Council held its first-ever meeting to address the human rights of LGBT people under ISIS. The briefing was convened by the U.S. and Chile, with nine out of 15 Security Council member countries attending, as well as dozens of other countries.  
  5. The U.N. refugee agency has played a crucial role in assisting LGBTQ people in fleeing violence and persecution, and in helping them resettle in countries that are more welcoming to LGBTQ people. They have repeatedly updated their guidance on how to  effectively and sensitively assist LGBTQ refugees and asylum seekers.
  6. When the U.N. released its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015, many countries committed to interpreting their language to ensure that LGBTQ people are not “left behind.”
  7. In September 2016, the U.N. appointed Vitit Muntarbhorn to serve as its first-ever Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. In that role, he has worked to reduce violence and discrimination against LGBTQ people and sought to improve their situation in all U.N. member states.
  8. The U.N. has published several groundbreaking reports covering “discrimination and violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity,” including guidelines and recommendations for national governments.
  9. In July 2017 the U.N. Human Rights office criticized the proposed U.S. ban on qualified transgender people serving in the military.
  10. Throughout his tenure (2010-17) UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon repeatedly and consistently used his platform to advocate for equality.