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Grace Poore
Women and Girls: Asia Pacific Lesbians, Bisexual and Trans Women Left Out in the Cold

in JORDAN, 02/02/2013

The international conference of National Human Rights Institutes in Amman, Jordan, focusing on protecting and promoting the rights of women and girls, was an extraordinary opportunity for human rights commissions around the world to publicly declare and commit to advancing the rights of, not some, but all women and girls. Sadly it was a missed opportunity.

Representatives from nearly 70 National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) from Africa, Asia Pacific, the Middle East, Europe and the Americas gathered in Amman, Jordan, November 5 to 7, for a conference to discuss the role of these institutions to protect and promote the rights of women and girls. Civil society activists from about 100 non-governmental organizations around the world also gathered for a "parallel" forum, organized by the Amman Center for Human Rights, to discuss best practices for women's rights NGOs to engage with National Human Rights Institutions. I participated in both.

Champions of NRHIs call them "gatekeepers for the advancement of human rights in their countries" and "cornerstones of human rights protections systems." But many activists, including those representing lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LBT) people have been dissatisfied and are critical of their NHRIs.

When asked about best practices for engaging the institutions on the rights of lesbian, bisexual and transgender women, Siniora Randa Siniora, member of the International Coordinating Committee (ICC), which is the accrediting body of NHRIs said, "This is too sensitive an issue for many countries" and she did not think the NHRIs could tackle such sensitive issues. Siniora's refusal to acknowledge that the rights of LBT women are worthy of attention perpetuates an ongoing negative message.

For a fuller discussion of the conference and its outcomes, see The Rights of Women and Girls Must Include Lesbian Bisexual and Trans, also by Grace Poore at www.IGLHRC.org

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