Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland, Minister Humza Yousaf, Alyn Smith MEP and Stewart McDonald MP have sharply criticised Saudi Arabia’s stance, which now chairs a key UN human rights panel, regarding LGBTI rights.
It follows the controversial appointment of Faisal bin Hassan Trad as Chair of the Five-Member Consultative Group of the UN Council for Human Rights last week who has been outspoken against LGBTI rights and the country’s appealing record on human rights.
The Ambassador said he does not recognise LGBTI as part of the universal human rights and instead stated it is “flagrant interference in its internal affairs, and absolutely unacceptable.”
He also added that LGBTI rights is an insult to his culture and Islam.
The Saudi Interior Ministry also made a statement recently that there would be no rights granted to LGBTI people in the Kingdom.
Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s First Minister told KaleidoScot that the arguments by the Saudi Arabian Ambassador are similar in someway to the UK government’s that “universal human rights are an interference about how countries go about their business.
“I take a completely different view of that, I think the importance of ECHR (European Convention on Human Rights) and UN rights based engagements are that they make a fundamental point that there are some rights that are universal and apply to all because we are human beings and we transcend different government priorities, cultures, and approaches.
“In particular this includes LGBTI people who face persecution and discrimination.”
Minister for Europe and International Development, Humza Yousaf, told KaleidoScot: “LGBTI rights are human rights and the Scottish Government condemns human rights abuses wherever they take place.
“Anyone representing the UN Human Rights Council, including Saudi Arabia, must uphold their stated responsibility of ‘strengthening the promotion and protection of all human rights around the globe.”
Alyn Smith MEP and member of the European Parliament’s a Foreign Affairs Committee and Delegation for relations with the Arabian Peninsula added: “The appointment calls into question the credibility of the whole thing. Saudi has a demonstrably awful human rights record and simply should not be in this role. Quite the reverse, the dialogue on human rights should be heightened if there is to be any scope for progress.”
Stewart McDonald, SNP MP told KaleidoScot that the notion that Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador has now been “put in charge of overseeing and protecting human rights worldwide is both absurd and deeply concerning.
“Given Saudi Arabia’s human rights record, the Kingdom should never have been eligible for a place on the UN HRC, let alone gifted this incredibly important and influential position.”
He further called the UN to investigate Saudi Arabia for its human rights records, called for Trad “to be removed from his position and to urgently seek a more appropriate appointment so that the UN Council for Human Rights can command the confidence of other member states and the public.”
Saudi Arabia remains fiercely opposed to the inclusion of sexuality and gender identity as part of the UN resolution on human rights. It has repeatedly tried to derail such resolutions, most recently in 2014.
The kingdom has one of the harshest punishments in the world for LGBTI people, including the death penalty, lengthy imprisonment and flogging.