KUALA LUMPUR, July 12 – Malaysia was among the minority of 17 countries that voted against a United Nations Human Rights Council resolution on the protection of sexual minorities from violence and discrimination.
The UN Human Rights Council said in a statement last Thursday that it has renewed the mandate of the Independent Expert on protection from violence and discrimination related to sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI), with its resolution adopted by a vote of 23 in favour, 17 against, and seven abstentions.
The 23 countries that voted for the Human Rights Council to adopt the A/HRC/50 02/L.2 resolution were Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Cuba, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Honduras, Japan, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Marshall Islands, Mexico, Montenegro, Nepal, Netherlands, Paraguay, South Korea, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Venezuela.
The 17 member states against the resolution comprised Cameroon, China, Cote d’Ivoire, Eritrea, Gabon, Gambia, Indonesia, Libya, Malawi, Malaysia, Mauritania, Pakistan, Qatar, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan, and United Arab Emirates.
Seven abstentions were recorded from Armenia, Benin, India, Kazakhstan, Namibia, Poland, and Uzbekistan.
Batu Kawan MP Kasthuri Patto pointed out that Article 8(1) of Malaysia’s Federal Constitution states that “all persons are equal before the law and entitled to the equal protection of the law.”
“Voting NO = no protection under law?” she tweeted yesterday.
In its resolution, UN’s Human Rights Council urged countries to amend or repeal laws and policies that discriminate against certain persons on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity, and to take effective measures to prevent acts of violence and discrimination.
The resolution also decided to extend for a period of three years the mandate of the Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination related to SOGI.
The Human Rights Council’s resolution further requested the Independent Expert to continue to report annually on the implementation of their mandate to the Human Rights Council and the UN General Assembly.
The Human Rights Council adopted the resolution back in 2016, creating the first ever SOGI mandate in the UN human rights system before extending the mandate this year for three years.
According to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Independent Expert on SOGI is mandated to increase protection for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people who suffer from violence and discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity by assessing implementation of human rights standards, identifying and addressing the root causes of violence and discrimination, and engaging in dialogue and consulting with governments and other relevant stakeholders to foster the protection of LGBT and gender-diverse individuals.
The Independent Expert is empowered to undertake fact-finding country visits, send appeals and letters of allegations to countries with regard to cases of SOGI-based violence and discrimination, and submit reports to the Human Rights Council and the UN General Assembly.
Malaysia’s LGBT community has often raised incidents of violence and discrimination, with religious authorities and government lawmakers openly condemning sexual minorities.