Side Event: Statement by Ambassador Thoms on LGBT Rights

Oct 16, 2013

Statement as prepared for delivery by Ambassador Thoms:

"Dear Youth Delegates, 

ladies and gentlemen,

a warm welcome to yet another side event on “Youth and Participation at the UN” in the German House.  I thank the German and Slovak youth delegates for again organizing it in such a great manner.  Let me emphasize, that these side events are always organized by the youth delegates in a completely independent manner.  So we cannot claim any credit for this.

My special thanks go to our moderator, Professor Kendall Thomas, from Columbia Law School, and the panelists, Susannah Fried, Marianne Mollmann, Graeme Reid and Aditya Shankar. Thank  you for joining us today.

For Germany, ensuring youth participation at the General Assembly is an important instrument within our Youth Delegate Program.  We are very happy to see that every year more and more member states decide to have similar programs.

As in the past, the youth delegates have again chosen a topic for today’s event, which is very controversially discussed in the UN: the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons. We are convinced that it is very important to discuss such sensitive issues with the world’s youth in order to have more open exchanges here at the UN among states in the future.

In the UN, LGBT-rights have so far, unfortunately, not been very high on the agenda. At the 17th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva in 2011, the Council has, for the first time, adopted a resolution on the rights of LGBT-persons. As a follow-up, in March 2012, a panel was held at the Council to talk about violence against members of this group. Since then, however, no more action has been taken in the UN. 

Germany has in the past been very active on this issue. We have organized or supported several conferences, in places as different as St. Petersburg, Lusaka or Panama to talk about this important topic. The German government has invited LGBT-activists from different regions to travel to Germany and learn about our legislation, meet German activists and network among colleagues from their neighboring countries. This has proven to be a very effective tool to enable and protect activists on the ground.

In December, Germany will organize a conference on LGBT-rights in Berlin, and in November, we will invite activists from Southern Africa to Germany to engage in discussions with members of the civil society and the church representatives.

The EU member states have also been very active in this regard. In June 2013, the EU has adopted the „Guidelines to Promote and Protect the Enjoyment of all Human Rights by Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) Persons“, which include guiding principles and specific suggestions for action of all EU member states in their foreign policy.

While more awareness has been created in the past years to integrate the rights of LGBT-persons into the human rights agenda, much more remains to be done, especially here at the UN. We hope that today’s discussion will create the spark needed to move forward! I am therefore looking forward to today´s event and invite you to remain alert and vocal on this important issue."

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