First-Ever UN Resolution on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

In a groundbreaking achievement for upholding the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the United Nations Human Rights Council has passed a resolution on human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The resolution is the first-ever UN resolution to bring specific focus to human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and it affirms the universality of human rights, and notes concern about acts of violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. This commitment of the Human Rights Council sends an important signal of support to human rights defenders working on these issues, and recognizes the legitimacy of their work.

“This is a monumental decision for the human rights movement, and Canadians can be very proud of the role we played in helping to achieve this watershed for global rights and greater equality,” says UFCW Canada National President Wayne Hanley. “From the coordinated efforts of leading organizations like Egale Canada to the individual efforts of UFCW Canada members and other community members who lobbied their MPs, this milestone is a direct result of the combined efforts of activists and a great example of the good that can happen when we have direct conversations with our elected representatives,” adds Brother Hanley who was recently invited by Egale Canada to serve on the organization's Human Rights Trust Honorary Advisory Council.

“The resolution reaffirms that discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity is a fundamental violation of human rights that is not acceptable here in Canada or anywhere,” says the National President of Canada’s largest private-sector union. "It is a positive step, but we must remain diligent in our solidarity so that the essence of the resolution is a reality for our LGBT brothers and sisters.”

Through a number of initiatives, UFCW Canada "is committed to our engagement of  LGBT communities across Canada, and working with our LGBT brothers and sisters to ensure the fundamental human rights that the resolution addresses are respected," says Naveen Mehta, UFCW Canada's director of human rights, equity and diversity.

The resolution also requests the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a study on violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, and calls for a panel discussion to be held at the Human Rights Council to discuss the findings of the study in a constructive and transparent manner, and to consider appropriate follow-up.

A powerful civil society statement was delivered at the end of the session, welcoming the resolution and affirming civil society’s commitment to continuing to engage with the United Nations with a view to ensuring that all persons are treated as free and equal in dignity and rights, including on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.

 “Now, our work is just beginning”, said Kim Vance of ARC International, a global organization for advancing LGBT rights. “We look forward to the High Commissioner’s report and the plenary panel next March, as well as to further dialogue with, and support from, those States which did not yet feel able to support the resolution, but which share the concern of the international community at these systemic human rights abuses.”