Pakistan and the Islamic bloc of nations at the UN have declared their opposition to the UN Human Rights Council discussing discrimination and violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.

The panel discussion is scheduled for today, Wednesday, 7 March, in Geneva during the 19th session of the UN Human Rights Council.

Their opposition is set out in a letter to the UN Human Rights Council, signed by the Pakistani Ambassador to the UN, Zamir Akram.

He writes on behalf of the government of Pakistan and all 57 countries that belong to the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

The ambassador’s letter makes the claim that LGBT rights are not human rights; asserting that they have “nothing to do with fundamental human rights.”

It denounces same-sex relationships as “abnormal sexual behaviour;” adding that “the issue of sexual orientation is unacceptable to the OIC.”

Ambassador Akram’s letter concludes by vowing that the OIC member countries “record their opposition to the holding of this panel and will not accept its considerations and recommendations.”

Despite opposition by Islamic nations and others, it is expected that the UN Human Rights Council panel will reaffirm its commitment to combat discrimination and violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

“Pakistan and the other 56 Islamic countries have signed up to the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which guarantees equal treatment and non-discrimination to all people,” commented Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation, which works with the democracy and human rights movements in Pakistan.

“Shamefully, Pakistan opposes this UN panel discussing discrimination and violence against LGBT people. Even many governments that disagree with homosexuality agree that violence against anyone, including sexual minorities, is wrong.

“The bigoted stance of the Pakistani ambassador to the UN is ill-informed about human sexuality and human rights law. He is living in the Dark Ages, ignoring scientific understanding and humanitarian ethics. His homophobic views are an insult to the estimated nine million lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Pakistanis. They have human rights too,” said Tatchell.

Homosexuality is illegal in Pakistan with punishment including life imprisonment. In some parts of the country, Islamic Sharia law can be applied, which could result in the death penalty.

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