On 15 June 2011, the Human Rights Council adopted a resolution 17/19 explicitly stating equality regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. The text proposed by South Africa and supported by 39 states including France, reasserts the universality of human rights and requests, by the end of 2011, a report on discriminatory practices linked to sexual orientation.
Defending the principle of non-discrimination, a key human rights principle, is of major importance to France. Although human rights should apply to everyone without any exception, violations of fundamental rights based on sexual orientation take place all over the world. The Human Rights Committee and the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights recognize sexual orientation as one of the prohibited grounds of discrimination through their respective international covenants. Within this framework, France has introduced and participated in concrete initiatives to protect the rights of LGBT persons.
During the 61st Commission on Human Rights held in 2005 in Geneva, France joined the statement made by New Zealand on behalf of 32 countries, in which discrimination based on sexual orientation of individuals were strongly criticized. It also co-sponsored with 54 other states the statement on sexual orientation or gender identity made by Norway during the 3rd Session of the Human Rights Council held in 2006, calling for a dialogue to be opened on this issue within the HRC.
France, together with the Netherlands and a pilot group of States (Argentina, Brazil, Gabon, Japan and Norway) initiated a Declaration on Human Rights and Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity , which was brought before the 63rd session of the UN General Assembly in December 2008 in New York. This initiative which was endorsed by 68 countries, i.e. more than one third of the General Assembly members, was a great success: for the first time in the history of the UNGA, States from all continents spoke out against human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
The signatories of this Declaration are: Albania, Andorra, Argentina,
Armenia, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica (which signed this declaration in March 2010), Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, France, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guinea-Bissau, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Montenegro, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Timor-Leste, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United States of America (which signed this declaration in January 2009), Uruguay and Venezuela.
On the first anniversary of the adoption of this declaration, the spokesman of French Ministry of Foreign Affairs made the following statement on 18 December 2009:
"France reaffirms, on the occasion of the first anniversary of the Declaration on Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, its determination to fight against human rights violations and discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression and condemns the resulting executions, arbitrary detentions, and deprivation of rights. Let’s not forget that today more than 60 countries forbid sexual relations between persons of the same sex or systematically suppress them, including through criminal penalties, with penalties sometimes as extreme as the death penalty.
"In accordance with its commitment, France organized a World Congress for Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity on 15 May for the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia. On this occasion, France announced the creation of a support fund which would receive financial contributions to encourage, promote awareness of and support civil society projects and actions, where funding is most needed. These projects and actions are helping to affirm the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the victims of discrimination.
"This fund was introduced by the Minister of Foreign and European Affairs. Its goal is to provide a structure for all public partners, as well as private ones (States, businesses, NGOs, foundations, communities, individuals) wishing to support the fight against homophobia and transphobia. The actions that are funded will make it possible to inform and increase the awareness of the local, national and regional authorities, in order to implement programs to promote awareness as well as programs to defend and protect victims and provide them with access to justice.
"We invite all of our partners to make commitments together with us by contributing to this support fund. This fund will make it possible to provide funding to NGOs, associations, universities, the media, foundations and national human rights institutions. The support fund represents a new stage in the process of affirming universal and indivisible human rights."
On 10 December 2009, on the occasion of the international day of Human Rights, a side event organized by Sweden, Argentina, Brazil, Croatia, the Netherlands, Norway and France was held on the theme "Opposing grave human rights violations on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity." Consisting of a round table discussion, this event brought together some fifty delegations and numerous NGOs. (Watch the parallel event)
On 21 December 2010, the UN General Assembly adopted an amendment that reintroduced the mention of the executions of LGBT persons in the resolution on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. It is the only resolution that specifically mentions sexual orientation. This reference was deleted in Third Committee. France and its partners called successfully for the reintroduction of this reference in the resolution.
On the occasion of Human Rights Day (Dec. 10), a special event on "Stop Bullying - Ending violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity" was held on 8 December 2011 at the United Nations in New York.
Composed of a panel of inter-regional youth, this side event was dedicated to the fight against the harassment of young people because of their sexual orientation.
On 7 March 2012, on the occasion of its 19th session, the Human Rights Council organized for the first time and in accordance with its resolution 17/19 adopted on 15 June 2011 a Panel discussion on ending violence and discrimination against individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity. The High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay presented the results of the study she prepared on discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity (read the statement made by the High Commissioner for Human Rights )
Rejecting the concept of sexual orientation and condemning homosexuality, the members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) represented by Pakistan condemned the organization of this debate, requesting this discussion to be the last and walked out of the room.
17 November 2011 - Report A/HRC/19/41 of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on Discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity
21 December 2010 - Resolution on Extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions
March 2007 - The Yogyakarta principles on the Application of International Human Rights Law in relation to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
See the file on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs