5 October 2016
Hon Murray McCully,
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade,
Dear Mr McCully,
It is understood that in November the UN General Assembly must decide whether to approve a controversial new UN post to enforce special new rights based on the sexual preference and behaviour of individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT).
We are aware that the Human Rights Council established this unprecedented mandate of “independent expert on violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity” through a resolution that narrowly passed 22 to 18 this June, with 6 abstentions.
We understand that the controversial mandate has already raised tension at the United Nations over the promotion of LGBT rights at the UN and is expected to be challenged.
The African Group, which normally introduces the work of the Geneva body in the General Assembly, has the opportunity to bracket the highly contested resolution and prevent the establishment of the mandate, but there are several hurdles to achieving this.
The United States and European and Nordic countries that direct millions of dollars each year to Africa through the UN system and bilateral assistance have been pressuring African countries to avoid blocking the mandate, arguing that the African Group cannot contest the action of the Human Rights Council.
The General Assembly has the authority through the UN Charter to review the decisions of lower UN bodies and we believe that this argument may find wide support.
The Human Rights Council, composed of only 47 out of 193 UN member states, is a subordinate body of the General Assembly and the UN Charter gives the General Assembly authority to deal with “any matter” involving the organization.
There are legitimate concerns about the legal basis for the mandate.
No UN treaty mentions sexual orientation or gender identity or can be fairly interpreted to include them, as the Family Articles, the official platform of the NGO alliance Civil Society for the Family state.
There is precedent in the work of the General Assembly to halt a resolution of the Human Rights Council. It occurred in the case of a resolution on reprisals when the council attempted to create a controversial new UN mandate in 2014. The same arguments that the mandate is too vague and not well founded in international law were used against the 2014 mandate and are applicable in the current case. Experts point out that the substantive concerns underlying action in 2014 are similar to the current case since they both called for a focal point in the UN system for a particular issue.
Right to Life is concerned at this attempt to impose the homosexual agenda on the international community. Our Society encourages you to withhold support for this mandate. I would be grateful if you would kindly advise me how our permanent delegation at the United Nations intends to vote on this very important issue?