IACHR

Press Release

IACHR Expresses Concern at the Possible Indefinite Suspension of the Mandate of the United Nations Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Calls on the States of the Region to Reaffirm their Commitment

December 17, 2016

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María Isabel Rivero
IACHR Press and Communication Office
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mrivero@oas.org

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Washington, DC - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), following up on its July press release, in which welcomed the adoption of the resolution A/HRC/32/Rev.2 entitled "Protection against Violence and Discrimination based In the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity "of the United Nations Human Rights Council that establishes the creation of an Independent Expert on sexual orientation and gender identity, expresses its concern over the threat of halting the mandate of the Independent Expert on sexual orientation and gender identity. The IACHR has been informed of the threat posed by the possible introduction of a new amendment before the General Assembly of the United Nations, which would seek to halt indefinitely the consideration and action of the resolution adopted by its Human Rights Council. Such an amendment would jeopardize the mandate of the Independent Expert and weaken international protection in favor of persons with diverse sexual orientations, identities and gender expressions, real or perceived, or non-normative, or whose bodies vary from female and male body standards.

On September 30, 2016, the United Nations Human Rights Council appointed Vitit Muntarbhorn as an Independent Expert in order to address violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity within the framework of the universal system on human rights protection, whose mandate began on November 1, 2016. The Inter-American Commission reiterates the importance of this appointment, which will also provide an important tool to assist States in fulfilling their obligations to respect and guarantee the human rights of all persons, without discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

"This historic resolution marked a milestone in the recognition of equality and non-discrimination of all persons. Therefore, those States that raise the flag of human rights and advocate real and effective equality for all people without discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, real or perceived, and bodily diversity, should continue to show leadership and support the continuity of the mandate of the work of the Independent Expert. States should also ensure that the mandate has an adequate amount of financial resources to operate effectively", affirmed Francisco Eguiguren Praeli, First Vice-President and Rapporteur for Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex (LGBTI) of the IACHR.

The IACHR welcomes the leadership shown by member states of the Organization of American States (OAS) such as Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Chile, El Salvador, United States, Mexico and Uruguay in the proposal for resolutions both to promote the creation of the figure of the Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, as well as to defend the continuity of the appointment of the Expert. In this sense, this compromise is a fundamental factor to ensure the continuity of the mandate of the Independent Expert, thereby reaffirming their commitment to the promotion of human rights of LGBTI persons.

The Commission calls on the States of the region to continue to protect the human rights of LGBTI persons and to focus their efforts on the recognition and protection of rights in democratic decisions and in accordance with the international obligations assumed by States. The Inter-American Commission also urges the States of the region to continue displaying their commitment to the promotion and protection of the human rights of LGBTI persons. In this sense, States should support initiatives that seek to expand the areas of protection and visibility of the structural problem that is violence and discrimination that affects LGBTI persons in the Americas.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 189/16