India chose to abstain at the UN Human Rights Council’s vote to appoint an independent investigator to help protect homosexuals and transgender people worldwide from violence and discrimination.
In a 23-18 vote with six abstentions, the 47-member Council on Thursday called for the creation of a three-year position for an independent expert to look into wrongdoing against gays, lesbians and transgender people.
After a debate lasting almost four hours, the forum overcame strong objections by Saudi Arabia and many Muslim countries from Africa and West Asia to adopt a resolution, which was strongly supported by Latin American and Western nations. China voted against the resolution.
Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup said India took the decision considering “legal” reality in the country. “The issue of LGBT rights in India is a matter being considered by the Supreme Court under a batch of curative petitions filed by various institutions and organisations. The SC is yet to pronounce (a judgment) on this issue,” he said.
“As such we had to take this into account in terms of our vote on the UN resolution to institutionalise the office of an independent expert to prevent discrimination against the LGBT persons,” Swarup said.
The expert is expected to be appointed at the next meeting of the Geneva-based Council in September.
The expert’s duties will include assessing international human rights laws, raising awareness of violence based on sexual orientation, and engaging in dialogue with member-states and other stakeholders.
The decision to create the post comes weeks after Afghan-origin Omar Mateen massacred 49 people at a gay bar in Orlando, Florida.