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India abstains on LGBT rights at UN, but politicians speak up for equality

Before the UN vote, many urged their supporters to put pressure on the central government to support gay rights

By The Telegraph

  • Published 12.07.19, 6:46 PM
  • Updated 13.07.19, 2:28 PM
Congress party leader and MP Shashi Tharoor was among the politicians who endorsed a petition urging the central government to vote in favour of LGBT rights at the United Nations Human Rights Council
Congress party leader and MP Shashi Tharoor was among the politicians who endorsed a petition urging the central government to vote in favour of LGBT rights at the United Nations Human Rights Council (Wikimedia Commons)

An online petition calling for the Narendra Modi government to vote in favour of the UN mandate on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) has gone viral on Twitter. In the vote, held on Friday, July 12, 2019, 27 countries were in favour and 12 against, while seven abstained. 

Even though India abstained, more and more politicians in the country are participating in the conversation on gender equality, and several called on their followers to sign the petition. More than 5,500 people signed the petition, which says that the United Nations Human Rights Council will come together to vote on a resolution prepared by Latin American countries in order to renew the SOGI mandate.

India had in the past also abstained from voting on a similar resolution. Many expected that the country would vote in favour this time, as it decriminalised homosexuality in a landmark Supreme Court judgment in September 2018. The judgment was commended internationally and hailed by LGBTQI rights groups.

The latest petition was endorsed by the Congress party's Shashi Tharoor: 

Congress leader and former MP Priya Dutt also asked her followers on Twitter to sign the petition:

Supriya Sule, MP from Baramati, Maharashtra, and a leader of the Nationalist Congress Party, had a similar message: 

Jignesh Mevani, a Dalit leader and member of the Gujarat legislative assembly, tweeted the following message: 

Harish Iyer, an equal rights campaigner, urged Twitterati to pressure the government on the resolution:

A growing number of Indian politicians is vocal in its support for LGBTQI rights. Pink List India is a roster of such politicians, and includes names such as Sonia Gandhi, Jay Panda, H.D. Deve Gowda and Milind Deora. 

This report has been updated to correct an error. The report had earlier mentioned Varun Sardesai and said he is a member of the Shiv Sena. However, the handle @varun_sardesai that tweeted in support of LGBTQ rights belongs to a resident of Pune, not any Shiv Sena leader. The error was unintentional. We apologise for the mistake.