UN Human Rights Council 50: UK’s Human Rights Ambassador, Rita French Statement on the SOGI Mandate Renewal

UN Human Rights Council 50: UK’s Human Rights Ambassador, Rita French Statement on the SOGI Mandate Renewal

Prior to the vote on the motion to extend the term of the Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (or “SOGI”), the UK’s Human Rights Ambassador, Rita French, made a general statement.

Here is the transcript of the speech, exactly as it was delivered:

‘Thank you Mr President

‘From the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 until 2014, LGBT+ persons were hidden behind the catch-all phrase “other status”. The mere use of the words Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity would be challenged in this very room.

‘Enforced silence breeds discrimination. It undermines equality. And it fosters violence.

‘In 2014, when this Council adopted its first resolution on combating violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity it sent a message to the world of recognition, hope and above all, empowerment.

‘A message that everyone, everywhere, should be free to love who they love and live their life fully and openly

‘A message that human rights really are for everyone.

‘We continue to owe a huge debt of gratitude to South Africa for their courageous leadership at that time

‘In 2016, this Council harnessed the hopes of that first resolution through the creation of the first UN mandate on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. As we reflect on all of this Council’s achievements across 50 sessions, this has been perhaps the most significant of them all. It was this mandate that marked the greatest step forward in recognising the need to uphold the rights of the most vulnerable, the most excluded and the most discriminated against.

‘The United Kingdom is extremely grateful to the main sponsors (Argentina, Uruguay) and others for their continuing leadership. We pay tribute to both Independent Experts on SOGI for the constructive way they have engaged people and state authorities from all regions.

‘We call on all States to support the resolution today and to oppose all amendments, that seek to weaken its content. The current resolution, like the 2016 text, does not create new human rights. Rather, it applies existing principles of human rights of non-discrimination and non-violence to all individuals in the world. We would hope that these principles are the minimum, which everyone should be able expect and which everyone here in this room can support.

‘We must all use our voice to bring pride to this Council.

‘Thank you’