In the last twenty years, individuals, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO’s) and even some States, have increasingly turned to international human rights mechanisms to protect and promote human rights related to sexual orientation.
In 2003, at the 59th session of the (UNCHR), Brazil introduced a new resolution entitled “Human Rights and Sexual Orientation.” This resolution was postponed to the 60th session of the CHR held in Geneva from March 15-April 23rd 2004. On April 24th 2003, Brazil introduced this resolution, stating that their aim and that of co-sponsors was not to create new human rights, but to build upon the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This resolution affirms the universality of Human Rights and the basic principle that lesbians, gays and bisexuals are entitled to the same human rights protection as other human beings.
Opposition to this resolution was swift and powerful. Ambassador Umer of Pakistan, on behalf of the OIC (the Organisation of the Islamic Conferences) sent an aide memoire and letter to all delegates, calling for them to vote against the resolution, calling it politically incorrect, procedurally flawed and substantially contentious and a direct insult to the 1.2 billion Muslims in the world. It was also reported that the Vatican exercised considerable pressure, particularly on some Latin American countries.
The first of many procedural maneuvers used by opponents of the resolution in the final days of the 59th session, was to call for a “no-action motion, which meant that the CHR would not take any action on the resolution and would not even consider debating or voting on the text. The “no-action” motion was defeated by a very narrow margin, with 24 votes against, 22 votes in favour and 6 abstentions. India also unfortunately voted for the “no-action” motion, which meant India was against the resolution. Fortunately the resolution was postponed to the 60th session of the CHR held in April 2004.
Aanchal Trust, a Mumbai-based NGO supporting lesbians, bisexuals and transgender women took the lead in 2003-2004 in lobbying with the Indian Government throughout 2003 to sensitize and dialogue with the government on the issues of the Sexual Orientation Resolution and the importance of affirming the basic principle that lesbians, gays and bisexuals are human beings who come from all races, religions, castes, economic status and are entitled to protection against discrimination on the grounds of their sexual orientation.
Aanchal Trust / Press release