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UN's first LGBTI Independent Expert resigns after one year in the role

Depsite many challenges to his role Vitit Muntarbhorn achieved a great deal in helping to end violence and discrimination against LGBTI people

UN's first LGBTI Independent Expert resigns after one year in the role
Vitit Muntarbhorn has resigned as the UN's first Independent Expert on LGBTI issues

The United Nation’s first Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGIE) has resigned from the role.

Thai Emeritus Professor Vitit Muntarbhorn cited personal and health reasons for the decision.

He was appointed to the role in September last year to investigate the protection against violence and discrimination on SOGIE.

Muntarbhorn will step down from the role on 31 October 2017.

‘My functions started in November and it has been a great pleasure to serve the global community on this issue for the past year,’ he wrote in his resignation letter.

Muntarbhorn achieved a great deal during his 12 months in the role. He finalised two initial reports: presented to the Human Rights Council in June 2017 and one to the General Assembly which will be presented in October 2017.

Muntarbhorn was the keynote speaker at the ILGA (International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association) World Conference in Bangkok in November 2016.

Controversial role

The Human Rights Council voted in June to create the position of Independent Expert.

But Muntarbhorn’s appointment face vigorous challenges at the UN General Assembly in December. It was also challenged againin January and March 2017.

But hundreds of civil society organizations from around the world joined forces to push back against those challenges. They wanted to support the Independent Exper position and Muntarbhorn’s nomination.

One of those organizations was Human Rights Campaign who thanked Muntarbhorn for his service.

‘The decision to establish an Independent Expert for LGBTQ rights was a significant milestone in the global effort for LGBTQ equality,’ said Ty Cobb, Director of HRC Global.

‘Professor Muntarbhorn has done an exceptional job as the first-ever Independent Expert. All LGBTQ people, regardless of where they live, will continue to benefit from his efforts to protect them from violence and discrimination.

‘We thank him for his pioneering service, and wish him the very best.’


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