December 6, 2017 at 10:53 am EST | by Michael K. Lavers
Costa Rican lawyer named new UN LGBTI rights watchdog

Victor Madrigal-Borloz has been chosen as the U.N.’s next LGBTI rights watchdog. He succeeds Vitit Muntarbhorn who resigned in September. (Photo courtesy of Facebook)

The U.N. Human Rights Council on Monday appointed a Costa Rican lawyer as the United Nations’ next LGBTI rights watchdog.

Victor Madrigal-Borloz, who is the secretary-general of the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims, lives in the Danish capital of Copenhagen. Madrigal-Borloz will succeed Vitit Muntarbhorn, an international law professor at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, who resigned in September because of health reasons.

The U.N. Human Rights Council in 2016 approved a resolution that created the LGBTI rights watchdog position. Muntarbhorn is the first person to hold the post.

“Madrigal-Borloz brings with him extensive experience working to protect the most marginalized communities, which will lend well to his success as the new independent expert,” said Jessica Stern, executive director of OutRight Action International, in a press release her organization released on Monday. “This position is about applying existing human rights law to LGBTI people and defending real lives. It is about holding governments to account for the egregious human rights violations committed against people based on their real or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity. OutRight looks forward to continuing to engage with this mandate and to the momentum that Madrigal-Borloz will bring to this position.”

ILGA also applauded Madrigal-Borloz’s appointment.

The organization in its own press release notes Madrigal-Borloz promoted LGBTI rights when he was at the Organization of American States. He was also a member of the U.N. Subcommittee for the Prevention of Torture and signed an expanded version of the Yogyakarta Principles — a set of recommendations on the application of human rights law to fight discriminination based on sexual orientation and gender identity — that was adopted last month in Geneva.

“While focusing his work on torture prevention and accountability, Mr. Madrigal-Borloz witnessed the multiple layers of violence and discrimination faced by LGBTI persons worldwide, maintaining an intersectional approach in his analysis that deeply matters to our communities,” said ILGA Co-Secretaries-General Ruth Baldacchino and Helen Kennedy. “The expertise that he has in navigating international human rights fora, always listening to the voices of civil society, is particularly fitting for the role that he will take on.”

Pedro Paradiso Sottile, executive director of ILGA Latin America and the Caribbean, in a statement said his organization is “very happy and proud” that Madrigal-Borloz will succeed Muntarbhorn.

“We know from his commitment, work and trajectory in the promotion and protection of human rights without any discrimination that he will be a great colleague from our beloved region of Latin America and the Caribbean,” said Paradiso in a statement.

Madrigal-Borloz is among the 11 people who were nominated to succeed Muntarbhorn.

U.N. Human Rights Council President Joaquin Alexander Maza Martelli in his formal nomination of Madrigal-Borloz noted only one of the 11 candidates was a woman. None of the candidates were transgender or gender non-binary.

Vitit Munterbhorn, gay news, Washington Blade

Vitit Muntarbhorn was the United Nation’s first-ever LGBTI rights watchdog. He resigned in September because of health reasons. (Photo courtesy of the U.N.)

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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