The United Nations’ top human rights body, the Human Rights Council, has voted overwhelmingly to condemn discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, despite opponents – including Russia, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia – attempting to block it on procedural grounds.

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) called the move ‘an important step forward toward progress for equality and human rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals.’

‘The Human Rights Council has taken a fundamental step forward by reaffirming one of the United Nations’ key principles – that everyone is equal in dignity and rights,’ said Jessica Stern, executive director of IGLHRC. ‘This resolution puts the UN on a trajectory to address the discrimination and violence LGBT persons suffer daily across the world.’

The Human Rights Council resolution – led by Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Uruguay – followed a resolution in 2011 on the same topic led by South Africa and asks the UN Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights to gather and publish information on how best to overcome discrimination and violence.

Opponents of the resolution tried to amend the text of the resolution, which would have eliminated all reference to sexual orientation and gender identity, and made it applicable only to countries who proactively declare support for sexual diversity and rights. All seven amendments were defeated by vote.

LGBT activists and allies from around the world have advocated strongly to bring about a resolution that would ensure regular attention at the Human Rights Council to violations based on real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. An earlier version of the resolution had reflected more of that vision, requiring the OHCHR to report biannually, although this was later removed from the text following negotiations.