Celebrants march up Market Street in the annual gay pride parade in San Francisco on June 26. The United Nations on Thursday voted to create a watchdog position to investigate and report on discrimination and violence agisnt gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender individuals for the first time. Photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI | License Photo
GENEVA, Switzerland, July 2 (UPI) -- A 43-nation panel at the United Nations narrowly approved a resolution to create a new position to investigate and report on global violence and discrimination against gays and lesbians.
The vote was hailed by supporters as a major step toward acknowledging gays rights are part of the U.N. Human Rights Council's larger work reporting on crimes against specific groups like women and ethnic minorities.
"This is a big deal," Charles Radcliffe, the chief of global issues at the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, told The New York Times. "Ten years ago, you hardly heard the words 'gay' or 'trans' at the U.N."
The measure passed with 23 nations voting in favor, 18 against, with six abstentions. The measure was sponsored by several South American countries -- and approved thanks to all South American nations voting yes -- a show of the continent's progressive shift on gay rights in recent years.
The measure was debated Thursday and opposed by several African and predominantly Muslim countries that sought to block and water down the position.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hailed the vote through a spokesman.
"I can tell you that the Secretary-General believes that the Human Rights Council marked another important step forward when it decided to appoint a UN Independent Expert to monitor and report on levels of violence and discrimination against LGBT people globally," said spokesman Stéphane Dujarric.
The position's creation will ensure regular and more reliable reporting on violence and discrimination against gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender individuals that will be regularly given to all member-countries of the United Nations.
The U.N. Human Rights Council has not named the individual who will received the initial three-year appointment.