Guyana recently voted at the United Nations against funding for the independent investigator appointed to help protect gay and transgender people and questioned about this on Thursday, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Greenidge said it is not a reflection of how the country would vote in the future.
In response to a question at his end-of-year press conference about Guyana being the only Caricom country that did not support the funding, he pointed
out that “the problem with that was with a specific resolution, which has a little history around it.”
Without going into details, the minister said that in that particular case, he did not feel that they could have supported the funding.
It is unclear exactly what caused Guyana not to vote in support of the funding but the negative vote would call into question its commitment to fully support the rights of gay and transgender persons particularly in an environment where local groups have argued that this category of persons has been targeted for violence and in some cases brutalised by the police.
Greenidge added: “You can have a broad agreement on something and find that the wording of a specific resolution or the way it has evolved, the option was not whether or not to fund this particular expert. It was an approach to the issue.”
He said it was felt that “the issue could have been dealt with differently” and asked the media not to take it as an “indication of hostility to a position of this group in particular.”
Reuters reported that on December 19, African states narrowly failed for a second time to halt the work of the first U.N. independent investigator appointed to help protect gay and transgender people worldwide from violence and discrimination.
The attempt, the report said was voted down in the U.N. General Assembly 84 to 77 with 16 abstentions, a month after African states made a similar unsuccessful move in the General Assembly’s third committee, which covers human rights.
The 47-member U.N. Human Rights Council, based in Geneva, Switzerland created the position in June and in September appointed Vitit Muntarbhorn of Thailand, who has a three-year mandate to investigate abuses against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people.
Gay sex is a crime in at least 73 countries, including Guyana.
Reacting to the UN vote, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power said the bid by the African states was “rooted in a real disagreement over whether people of a certain sexual orientation and gender identity are in fact entitled to equal rights.”
“And it is being driven by a group of U.N. member states that believe it is acceptable to treat people differently because of who they are or who they love,” she told the General Assembly.
Reuters added that Russia, several African countries and Egypt, speaking on behalf of the 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, said last month they would not recognize the mandate of the gay rights investigator and would not cooperate with Muntarbhorn.
Russia also prevented the United Nations Security Council from thanking outgoing Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon specifically for promoting gay rights during his decade in office, diplomats said.
In February, Reuters said that the African Group, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and the 25-member “Group of Friends of the Family,” led by Egypt, Belarus and Qatar, protested the launch of six U.N. stamps promoting LGBT equality.