Argentina and the United Kingdom have been chosen Monday to co-chair the Equal Rights Coalition for two years starting next June, to succeed Chile and Canada at the helm of the first-ever intergovernmental organisation dedicated to the protection of the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBT) people around the world.
The ERC offers key opportunities both to advance this important human rights agenda internationally and to build a new kind of multilateral organisation, one that is nimble, closely integrated with civil society and able to respond to rapidly evolving situations.
Together with the United Kingdom, we will lead the Coalition for Equal Rights. 40 countries working together to promote equality for people, Argentina's Foreign Ministry posted on Twitter.
In Britain, on the 70th anniversary of the UN Declaration of Human Rights, the Minister for Human Rights Lord Tariq Ahmad of Wimbledon made the announcement during a reception at the Foreign Office, 51 years after the British Government decriminalised consensual same-sex relations in England and Wales.
Britain will use its role as co-chair to lobby countries to decriminalise same-sex relationships, improve protection for LGBT communities and remove legislation and policies that discriminate against LGBT people, it was explained.
It is a modern tragedy that there are people in same-sex relationships around the world who are discriminated against, tortured and deprived of the right to live their lives as they see fit, said Lord Ahmad.
He added that Britain will defend human rights, stand up for our values, and fly in the face of the ignorance that criminalises, subjugates and discriminates against the LGBT community.
The minister was very clear: I will make sure that Britain will not rest until LGBT people are afforded the same rights as everyone else.
Monday's announcement is part of a wider UK work to end discrimination against LGBT communities globally. In over two thirds of Commonwealth countries and more than 70 countries globally, same-sex relationships are illegal and LGBT people continue to be subjected to violence and discrimination.
British diplomats are already working with civil society groups across the Commonwealth who can access £ 5.6m fund to strike off discriminatory LGBT legislation.
Lord Ahmad also reiterated his commitment to supporting Human Rights Defenders. Britain is a global defender of human rights, fundamental freedoms, and democratic values, and has championed campaigns to end modern slavery and human trafficking, to prevent sexual violence in conflict, and to ensure at least 12 years of quality education for girls.
The Equal Rights Coalition includes the United Kingdom, Albania, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Cape Verde, Chile, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Israel, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Montenegro, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, United States of America, Uruguay in working toward a vision of equality regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.