News story, 12.03.2013

Human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity

Norway, in cooperation with the Republic of South Africa, will host an international conference in Oslo on human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity 15–16 April 2013. The conference will draw on the outcomes of regional seminars in Brazil, France and Nepal. The aim is to ensure the continued attention of the Human Rights Council on human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

In June 2011, under the leadership of South Africa, the UN Human Rights Council adopted resolution 17/19 – the first UN resolution on human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity. This historic resolution was followed by a report from the High Commissioner for Human Rights that highlighted the responsibility of states to end violence and discriminatory laws and practices based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and a panel discussion was held in the Human Rights Council in March 2012.

To ensure continued focus on human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity, South Africa, Norway, Brazil and other friends of the resolution decided to reach out through a series of regional seminars, as a prelude to the 23rd session of the Human Rights Council.

The regional seminars in March and April 2013 will seek to improve understanding of the specific human rights challenges faced by sexual minorities in each region and discuss how these challenges may best be overcome.

The Oslo conference will summarise the outcome of the regional seminars and identify common and distinctive themes and trends. It will identify gaps and implementation challenges from each region, and gather information on emerging policy responses and good practices. These findings will be outlined in the Co-Chair’s Summary, which will also set out recommendations on the way forward and possible mechanisms to advance the issue more systematically in the Human Rights Council.

The conference will be opened on Monday 15 April by Ms Gry Larsen, State Secretary, Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and will also be attended by Mr Espen Barth Eide, Minister of Foreign Affairs. The conference will be chaired by Mr Jerry Matjila, Director-General, Department of International Relations and Cooperation of the Republic of South Africa, and Ms Bente Angell-Hansen, Secretary General of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Further information
Further information on the conference agenda, registration form, and practical details is available on the conference' web site.

Contact persons
For any additional inquiries regarding the conference and accreditation, please contact the conference secretariat in the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs:

Ms Cathrine Halsaa, email: , tel: +47 23 95 14 82 or
Mr Yngve Olsen Hvoslef, email: , tel: +47 23 95 09 21
Press: email: , +47 23 95 00 02,