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Historic UN debate on sexual orientation and gender identity

Yesterday, the UN Human Rights Council held the first debate on how the UN can help to combat violence and discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Jonas Gahr Støre commented, “This is a historic moment for the UN. Under the leadership of South Africa, we have at last had a debate on how the international community can promote effective protection of human rights for all.”


Norway supports Ban Ki-moon’s clear message that all countries should decriminalise homosexuality. This is not a question of creating new rights, but of facing the fact that human rights apply to all regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity.

During the debate in the Human Rights Council, a report from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights was discussed. It maps massive and systematic violations of human rights on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. It was South Africa that chaired the debate.

“Many countries expressed a wish to share their experience of efforts to combat discrimination of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transpersons. It is a major step forward that this experience is being shared in the UN. It gives us a strong departure point for taking action,” said Mr Støre.

Norway will seek to ensure that discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation remains on the UN agenda, for example through its support – both political and financial – for the High Commissioner’s work in the field.

We also support the High Commissioner’s recommendations to member states on combating impunity for killings and other serious abuses, as well as systematic registration of such crimes, and information and awareness-raising campaigns targeted at the police, the judiciary and the education sector. Our efforts to combat discrimination in Norway are based on the Government’s action plan on improving quality of life among lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transpersons.

Norwegian Minister of the Environment and International Development Erik Solheim commented, “Norway supports many brave people all over the world in their work for fundamental rights for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transpersons. This is a matter of life and death for many of those concerned, and it is our duty to support their work.”



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