UNGA Adopts Resolution on Free and Fair Elections With Second Ever Mention of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
New York, New York - November 18, 2021 - During the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), the Third Committee adopted the resolution “Strengthening the role of the United Nations in the promotion of democratization and enhancing periodic and genuine elections” including an explicit reference to sexual orientation and gender identity. This is only the second UNGA resolution which explicitly mentions sexual orientation and gender identity.
The Third Committee is one of six committees at the General Assembly of the UN. It deals with human rights, humanitarian affairs and social matters. It has been a key body of the UN recognizing the human rights of LGBTIQ people. The resolution on elections is renewed every two years. This year the resolution focused on gender-based barriers to access to free and fair elections. Paragraph 7 of the resolution recognizes limitations in access to free and fair elections due to a number of characteristics, including sexual orientation and gender identity.
Specifically, paragraph 7 calls on states ”to take measures to eliminate laws, regulations and practices that discriminate, directly or indirectly, against citizens in their right to participate in public affairs, including based on race, color, ethnicity, national or social origin, sex, sexual orientation and gender identity, language, religion, political views or on the basis of disability”
An amendment to exclude the reference to sexual orientation and gender identity was proposed by Nigeria on behalf of a group of countries, but the effort failed in a vote of 90 against, 58 in favor and 13 abstentions. A separate amendment was also proposed to exclude a reference to women and girls in all their diversity, which also failed.
Sahar Moazami, UN Program Officer, Outright International, comments:
“Explicit inclusion of the fact that there are barriers to accessing free and fair elections based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the resolution adopted today is no small feat. It builds on progress in recognition of the human rights of LGBTIQ people at the UN, and shows that the institution is looking at identity from a complex lens. People are not a homogenous group; our sexual orientations and gender identities are merely one aspect of our identities. The vulnerabilities and risks LGBTIQ individuals face across the globe are diverse, ranging from violence and hate, to barriers accessing services such as healthcare, or, indeed, accessing free and fair elections.”
Maria Sjödin, Acting Executive Director of Outright International, comments:
“Human rights should be guaranteed for everyone regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, but we know that too often that is not the case. We welcome the addition of one more resolution that explicitly mentions the vulnerability that many LGBTIQ people experience. This will make it harder for states to deny the basic rights of our communities.”
The resolution includes other references to diversity in all its forms. It was co-sponsored by 87 states, showing growing, cross-regional support for the resolution as a whole, including the explicit reference to sexual orientation and gender identity.
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