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On June 17, 2011, the United Nations passed a historic resolution recognizing LGBT rights as human rights. The rights of the LGBT community, though unrecognized by most of the countries of the world, were endorsed by the Human Rights Council - the highest body for human rights in the UN. The resolution endorsing equal rights for the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) people created a controversy and was passed by majority voting despite opposition from a number of African and Islamic nation.

Reaching the Resolution

The Bureau of International Organization Affairs, the US Department of State bureau, started actively campaigning to spread an awareness regarding LGBT rights in the US. In March 2011, the bureau reached out to over eighty-five nations to conclude a joint statement endorsing LGBT rights. South Africa proposed the resolution in the United Nations. Much lobbying was done in the capital cities of most countries and the resolution was actively supported by the gay and lesbian organizations of the world.

Topic of Historic Dissent
The debate over LGBT issues has been a long and painful one. LGBT rights have gone unrecognized in many parts of the world and incidences of discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation have been widespread. Many countries have laws that discriminate against the LGBT community. Incidents of violence and cruelty against the people are also frequent. The importance of the resolution lay in the lack of consensus among the member countries of the United Nation with regard to the issue.  South Africa’s stand on the issue and the bold proposal of the resolution gained the country much support across the world but was also criticized by many other African nations. Twenty-three nations voted in favor of the resolution while nineteen opposed it.

The Opposition
A number of countries, member nations of the United Nations vehemently opposed the resolution. The opposing nations argued that the issue was a matter of national jurisdiction the resolution did not reflect regional sentiments. South Africa was severely criticized by Nigeria. The Nigerian representative alleged that most of the people of South Africa did not approve of the resolution. The proponent nations argued that the LGBT communities all over the world demanded the freedom to acknowledge their sexual orientation without fear or inhibition; that individuals should enjoy these rights by virtue of their birth as human beings. They also stated that it was all the more important for the resolution be passed since the governments of the opposing nations were not ready to preserve the equality of the LGBT community in their countries.

Countries that Voted in FavorCountries that Voted AgainstAbstained from VotingAbsentee Countries
ArgentinaAngolaBurkina FasoKyrgyzstan
Republic of KoreaMoldova  
SlovakiaRussian Federation  
SpainSaudi Arabia  

The Path Ahead

The adoption of the resolution acknowledging LGBT rights as human rights is a momentous event. This is expected to prompt governments and societies of member nations to implement LGBT friendly laws and practices. On June 24, 2011, a week after the resolution was passed New York State became the sixth state in the US to allow and approve of gay marriages. Other countries are following the cue and legislations endorsing LGBT rights are being debated.

Last Updated on: September 30th, 2021
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