SOGI Splitting Human Rights Consensus

Posted on | June 17, 2011 by Contributor |

The Human Rights Council in Geneva voted today to adopt a resolution which would commission a study documenting discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity (“SOGI”), and how to use international human rights law to end such discrimination. The vote split the members of the Council in half.

A number of member states spoke out in opposition to the resolution:

The Organization of the Islamic Conference was very concerned about attempts to include in this forum notions that had no basis in international law and international legal and human rights standards…noting with concern the attempts to create new standards and include notions that had never been agreed before.

Nigeria, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that African countries, and more than 90 per cent of the African people did not support this draft resolution… and accused the resolution of disregarding the universality of human rights and putting individual conduct above international instruments.

Bahrain…condemned the attempt to make the Council deal with controversial issues such as gender identity. This was an attempt to create new standards and new human rights by misinterpreting the existing international human rights standards. These were issues based on personal decisions and were not fundamental human rights.

One of the reasons “SOGI” remains so contentious is the fact that it has no internationally agreed-upon definition. Many nations and peoples prescribe to the view that gender is defined by the two biological sexes, not by perceptions or self-identification on a gender identity spectrum. Others countries who spoke out voiced their concern that if “SOGI” is made a protected non-discrimination group the door would be open to international pressure to change cultural, moral, and religious norms on these “sensitive issues.”

The battle over “SOGI” is expected to come to New York this fall during the General Assembly.



Turtle Bay and Beyond is a blog covering international law, policy and institutions. Our experts - at the UN, European Institutions, and elsewhere - explore an authentic understanding of international law, sovereignty, and the dignity of the human person. We expose those who would seek to impose a radical social vision that is contrary to these principles.


RSS Feed

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • Recent Articles

  • Categories

  • Authors