Thank you, Mr. President,
I have the honor to speak on behalf of the European Union.
The Candidate Countries Montenegro*, Serbia and Albania*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the EFTA countries Iceland, Liechtenstein member of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine and Georgia align themselves with this statement.
The VDPA reminds us that “Special emphasis should be given to (…) strengthening of a pluralistic civil society. States have the responsibility to ensure that those who speak up for human rights are protected. The European Union is concerned about persistent cases of persecution of human rights defenders and journalists and condemns all acts of intimidation and violence against them. We particularly condemn reprisals against civil society representatives applied by some states for attending activities of the Human Rights Council.
The European Union has repeatedly demonstrated its commitment to fight discrimination in all its aspects. In this respect, we would like to underline that the universal nature of human rights includes also the responsibility to ensure equality, non-discrimination and protection from violence for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex-persons.
The Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action declares that ‘human rights and fundamental freedoms are the birthright of all human beings’. Yet, we see that LGBTI-persons continue to be denied their birthright in all parts of the world often facing discrimination and violence. At least 76 States retain laws that are used to criminalize and harass persons on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression, including laws criminalizing consensual, adult same-sex relationships. In addition, according to OHCHR, there are laws that seek to restrict public discussion of sexual orientation under the disguise of “protecting minors” from information on so-called “non-traditional sexual relations”.
As stated by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon: “It is an outrage that so many countries continue to criminalize people simply for loving another human being of the same sex. These laws must go.”
We are therefore pleased to see that non-discrimination of LGBTI-persons is firmly included as a recurring topic on the international agenda, and increasingly so. The Human Rights Council must continue to play its part through regular debate on how the international community best can combat violence and discrimination linked to sexual orientation and gender identity.
Thus the EU supports the draft resolution on the “Protection against violence and discrimination based on Sexual Orientation, and Gender Identity” tabled by Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Chile, Colombia and Mexico at the current session of the Human Rights Council. We believe that the creation of an Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity would effectively support States and the UN system in combatting the discrimination and violence faced by LGBTI-persons in countries in all parts of the world.
I thank you.
* Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.