By Julie Moreau
The 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly concluded this week, and among the packed events during the two-week gathering was a meeting of the U.N.’s LGBTI Core Group. Now 9 years old, the group is composed of representatives from 26 member states, along with the U.N.’s Office of Human Rights and two advocacy organizations — Human Rights Watch and OutRight International. The group’s mission is to advocate for the rights of sexual and gender minorities globally, with an emphasis on ending violence and discrimination.
But while the U.S. had taken a leading role in the U.N. LGBTI Core Group during the Obama years, its participation this year was noticeably muted.
U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein addressed the forum, noting the recent “historic advances” in LGBTQ rights globally, including Malta’s 2015 Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics Act. The measure allows for individuals to alter identity documents to reflect their gender identity quickly, and without requirements to undergo medical evaluation or surgical procedures. The Act has been praised by intersex advocates because it prohibits any surgical intervention on children that can be deferred until the child is old enough to consent.
Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, also present, remarked on what he called the country’s “transformation” with respect to LGBTQ rights — from one that actively opposed European Union reforms regarding LGBTQ discrimination to one leading the European pack. “It can be done,” he said.
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