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UN Expert Warns of 'Egregious' Violence Facing Global LGBTQ Community

United Nations
AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

Across the world, they're being murdered, mutilated and abducted.

Last Friday, the U.N. General Assembly gathered to turn their focus towards the violence facing LGBTQ communities across the world, thanks to the work of Vitit Muntarbhorn. It was last September that Muntarbhorn became the United Nations' first Independent Expert on violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, thanks to an appointment to the position by the Human Rights Council.

During the meeting, Muntarbhorn spoke out about the growing intolerance and legal repurcussions facing LGBTQ communities, including the stark reality that criminalization of homosexuality is legal in more than 70 countries. "LGBT people are suffering a crucible of egregious violations, including killings, rape, mutilation, torture, arbitrary detention, abduction, harassment, physical and mental assaults," Muntarbhorn warned in his address, according to NBC News.

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He furthered, "They are subjected to lashings and forced surgical interventions, bullying from a young age, incitement to hatred and pressures leading to suicide." Muntarbhorn proposed a mandate to these countries that called for the criminalization of same-sex relationships "be removed from statute books" and that "no other legal measures should be used to target sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression for the purpose of consolidating power and suppressing dissent."

While many were in support of the mandate, OutRight Action International reports that Egypt, Belarus, and Russia, amongst many others, have spoken out against Muntarbhorn's mandate.

A delegate from Egypt representing the countries opposed to the mandate (as well as 56 of the 57 Organization of Islamic Cooperation States) stated that, "Our position on the matter is clear, that we do not recognize the mandate of the independent expert and therefore are not in a position to engage, interact or cooperate with the mandate holder."

Despite the discouraging response from some countries, OutRight reports that many countries have shown progress in supporting the mandate, most notably Japan, as they're the only Asian country to do so thus far. Jessica Stern, OutRight's Executive Director, called Muntarbhorn's address a "big day in the world of LGBTI rights and international law...Most days we lose, but today we won!"

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