India has abstained at the UN Human Rights Council voting to appoint an independent expert to look into cases of violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Eventually, the UN Human Rights Council successfully passed the resolution.
Defending India’s decision, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said, “The issue of LGBT rights in India is being considered by the Supreme Court. The SC is yet to pronounce on this issue. As such we had to take this into account in terms of our vote on the the UN resolution
Rajesh Srinivas of LGBT rights group Sangama said, “The cases which are sub judice are about decriminalising homosexuality. This vote was for the appointment of an independent expert to probe violence against the community. The two are different issues. The UN vote was a matter of human rights and, frankly speaking, this makes India look bad in terms of international diplomacy. By abstaining we are telling the world that violence and discrimination against the community is a non-issue.”
Activist Harish Iyer wrote on Facebook , “Today, at the UN, our great nation had an opportunity to tell the world that we are together in this war against homophobia, biphobia and transphobia…. India, by abstaining, you have once again voted for hate,”
Eighteen — including Russia, China, Saudi Arabia and Ethiopia — voted against. The remaining six — India, the Philippines, Ghana, Maldives, South Africa and Botswana — abstained.
The expert is expected to be appointed at the next meeting of the Geneva-based body in September. The resolution was strongly supported by Latin America and the West, while many African and Middle Eastern countries joined China to vote against it. The expert’s duties will include assessing international human rights laws, raising awareness of violence based on sexual orientation and engaging in dialogue with member states and other stakeholders.