Vietnam, South Korea, Mongolia back United Nations watchdog for LGBT rights
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Vietnam, South Korea, Mongolia back United Nations watchdog for LGBT rights

THE only Asian countries to back a United Nations mandate to safeguard gay and transgender people from violence and discrimination all around the world are Vietnam, South Korea and Mongolia. The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) voted on Thursday to appoint the independent monitor.

The Geneva-based UNHRC debated the issue for nearly four hours before agreeing to appoint an “independent expert” to identify what causes violence and discrimination towards the LGBT community, and work with governments to find ways of protecting them.

Vietnam, South Korea and Mongolia voted in favor of the mandate, the only three supporters from the Asian region to do so. The rest of the 23 members to support the mandate were from Europe and Latin America.

Six countries abstained from the vote, including the Philippines, India and South Africa, while 18 opposition votes came from mostly from Muslim and African countries, as well as China and Russia.

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According to the Washington Post, the resolution included a last-minute amendment as a nod to countries where homosexuality is not widely accepted, which said “the significance of national and regional particularities and various historical, cultural and religious backgrounds must be borne in mind”.

However, it added: “It is the duty of the States, regardless of their political, economic and cultural systems, to promote and protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

A spokesperson for the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said in statement to journalists in New York: “I can tell you that the Secretary-General believes that the Human Rights Council marked another important step forward when it decided to appoint a UN Independent Expert to monitor and report on levels of violence and discrimination against LGBT people globally.

“It is clear that there’s still so much that needs to be done to protect people from violence, tackle discrimination at work, end bullying in schools and ensure access to healthcare, housing and essential services.”

The expert will be appointed in September, and carry out a three-year term to carry out country visits and take up individual allegations with governments.