Intervention by UN Watch, at the first consultation of the Independent Expert on violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, delivered at the United Nations, Geneva, 25 January 2017, by David Mendoza-Wolfson.

Professor Muntarbhorn,

UN Watch believes that your new mandate has the potential to save lives. We congratulate you on your appointment, and look forward to working together to ensure protection for the victims who need it most.

Of the five areas you identified as instrumental for protection, we believe decriminalization must be foremost, for upon this depend the others.

According to the latest 2016 report by the International Lesbian & Gay Association, in 72 countries, homosexuality is still illegal—and in 13 countries, same-sex acts are punishable by death.

According to that report: in Afghanistan, in the Islamic Republic of Iran, in Mauritania, in Pakistan, in Qatar, in Saudi Arabia, in Sudan, the United Arab Emirates, in Yemen and parts of Nigeria and Somalia, as well as those parts of Iraq and Syria controlled by the Islamic State, consensual homosexual conduct is punishable by death. We note for the record that none of these countries were present for your consultation yesterday with UN member states.

Do you agree that your time and resources should prioritize victims of those 72 countries who still criminalize, flog, and imprison individuals on account of their sexual orientation?

Would you address as a first priority potential victims in the 13 countries that impose the death penalty?

Finally, given that some of these perpetrators are members of the United Nations human rights Council—including Qatar the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, which recently began a three-year term—and that members are pledged to set an example and uphold the highest standards of human rights, would you consider making country visits to such places, or to visiting nearby countries to collect testimonies, in the event that they would refuse to allow you to visit?

Thank you, Professor.

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