01/07/2016 7:29 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:27 AM IST

India Abstains From Voting On U.N. Resolution To Appoint LGBT Expert

Hindustan Times via Getty Images
GURGAON, INDIA - JUNE 25: Members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community take a candlelight march in protest against the mass shooting in Orlando Gay nightclub and demand support and solidarity for victims of attack, on June 25, 2016 in Gurgaon, India. Omar Mateen, an Afghan-born gunman, killed at least 49 people at a gay nightclub in the American city on June 12. (Photo by Abhinav Saha/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

GENEVA/NEW DELHI -- India has abstained at the UN Human Rights Council voting in Geneva to appoint an independent expert to look into cases of violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, a resolution which was passed by a narrow margin.

In a 23-18 vote with six abstentions, the 47-member Human Rights Council yesterday called for the creation of a three-year position for an independent expert to look into wrongdoing against gays, lesbians and transgender people.

Defending India's decision, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup in New Delhi said India took the decision considering the "legal" reality in the country. "The issue of LGBT rights in India is a matter being considered by the Supreme Court (SC) under a batch of curative petitions filed by various institutions and organisations. The SC is yet to pronounce on this issue," said Swarup.

"As such we had to take this into account in terms of our vote on the the UN resolution to institutionalise the office of an independent expert to prevent discrimination against the LGBT persons," he told reporters.

The expert is expected to be appointed at the next meeting of the Geneva-based body in September.

The resolution was strongly supported by Latin America and the West, while many African and Middle Eastern countries joined China to vote against it.

The experts duties will include assessing international human rights laws, raising awareness of violence based on sexual orientation and engaging in dialogue with member states and other stakeholders.

The decision to create the post comes weeks after Afghan-origin Omar Mateen massacred 49 people at a gay bar in Orlando, Florida.

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