UN LGBT rights investigator Vitit Muntarbhorn drops out
Just when the world needs a UN LGBT rights investigator, Vitit Muntarbhorn has resigned from his position.
This news comes as US President Donald Trump continues to push for anti-LGBT initiatives and countries like Chechnya purge homosexuals.
The resignation of Vitit Muntarbhorn as UN official
Muntarbhorn, the UN’s Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity since his appointment a year ago, sent his resignation letter to the Human Rights Council last September effective 31 October 2017.
Muntarbhorn cited as his reason for his resignation as “illness and family reasons.”
Before his departure, he called for immediate action to stop human rights violations around the world against “sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression” in his report to the UN Member States in New York.
“It is unconscionable that people with an actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression different from a particular social norm, are targeted for violence and discrimination in many parts of the world,” he said.
Speaking before the UN General Assembly’s main body focusing on human rights and social and humanitarian issues, he said: “More than 70 countries around the world today still criminalize same-sex relations, and in some of them the death penalty may be applied.”
While there has been some progress, “a global trend toward decriminalization of consensual same-sex relations,” he said, he pointed out that there are still gaps.
The importance of the UN LGBT rights investigator
The selection of the UN LGBT rights investigator was especially controversial as a number of countries had blocked the creation of the position.
“Precisely because this mandate was so heated, so caustic, from the beginning, my humble intention during this year was to calm the situation through quiet engagement,” he said in his report.
The establishment of this position in 2016 and the appointment of Muntarbhorn as UN independent export and special rapporteur was a major step forward for the global organization.
The appointment of the investigator is given by the Geneva-based Human Rights Council. This investigator then looks at specific human rights themes or a country situation, then reports back to the council.
These positions are honorary and those selected are not regarded as UN staff and are not even paid for their work.
Given the crackdown in countries like Chechnya, in Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, in Tajikistan, and in Egypt against the LGBT community, the next appointee to the post should hopefully not be long.