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Countries who criminalise homosexuality must not be allowed a seat on the UNHRC

This is an open letter drafted by UN-aligned and addressed to the President of the United Nations Human Rights Commission.

To United Nations Human Rights Commission President Nazhat Shameem Khan,

In the spirit of the United Nations’ Declaration of Human Rights, we, the undersigned firmly believe in “the inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family”. This is “the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world”, whereas “disregard” and “contempt” for these rights “have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind.”

Whilst many member states flout human rights on a regular basis, certain states actually enshrine these abuses in law. This is very much the case with LGBT+ rights in as much as almost a third of United Nations’ member States criminalise homosexuality with penalties ranging from death and lengthy prison sentences to beatings and fines. This proportion does not include States that oppress the LGBT+ rights in other ways, such as Hungary and Poland. 

“Disregard” for these abuses is, according to the standards of the United Nations (UN), unacceptable and therefore completely incompatible with its mandate. Yet, despite this, the UN consistently allows nations that legally persecute members of the LGBT+ community to form part of the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC). Of the UNHRC’s current 47 members, over a dozen specifically criminalise homosexual acts. Welcoming such members to the UNHRC is not only an insult to all the victims of this persecution, but also qualifies as the very “disregard” and “contempt” the Declaration of Human Rights refers to. We therefore call on the UNHRC to make rescinding such discriminatory laws a precondition of membership to the UNHRC. Anything less constitutes condoning human rights abuses and tarnishes the integrity of the commission.

We understand that implementing these restrictions will take time, but we nevertheless would like to know what arrangements are going to be made in order to ensure that the nations entrusted with the promotion of human rights are not serial offenders themselves.  


  1. UN-aligned
  2. Young World Federalists
  3. LGBT+ Denmark
  4. Federación Estatal de lesbianas, gais, trans, bisexuales, Intersexuales y +(FELGTBI+)
  5. Fundación Ecuatoriana Equidad
  6. Cara-Friend
  8. The Naz Foundation (India) Trust
  9. Peter Tatchell Foundation
  10. Copenhagen Pride
  11. LGBTQIA+ Youth India
  12. Kaos Gay Lesbian Cultural Research and Solidarity Association (Kaos GL)
  13. See list of individuals
  14. (Sign your name below)
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