A New Battle at the UN Could Decide What ‘LGBT’ Means


By Andrew Park
April 2, 2015
HuffPost Gay Voices

Each year a group of United Nations experts met to decide, on behalf of the countries of the world, what it means to be healthy, sick, rich, poor, violent, peaceful, and a myriad of other states of well-being. Although this group is not very well-known in the human rights community, it may have more influence on global human rights than most other parts of the UN. The UN Statistical Commission is the department at the UN that decides how to define many of the terms used by governments. At its annual meeting this year, for the first time, issues of sexual orientation and gender identity were raised. Here is why this discussion is vitally important to LGBT communities throughout the world.

This year, the UN will establish a new development agenda — a set of 20-year goals for reducing poverty, increasing health, decreasing conflict, and combatting discrimination, among other things. These goals, called the sustainable development goals, will guide trillions of dollars of international aid and humanitarian relief programs over the next decades. The goals are the result of a long series of negotiations amongst governments, and one of the big questions has been whether these goals will explicitly include LGBT people, either now or in the future as the goals come under review.

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