Why the UN’s first ever LGBTI expert is not quite what you may expect
UN Human Rights Council voted to appoint Independent Expert on sexual orientation and gender identity but the job has a few surprises

The United Nations is looking for a global expert on LGBTI rights but there’s a problem with the application form. The UN Human Rights Council voted to appoint its first ‘Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity’ in a historic decision on 30 June. But UN bureaucracy hasn’t quite caught up.

The application form refers to potential candidates as ‘he/she’ throughout. And it gives only two ‘sex’ tick-box options for applicants – ‘male’ or ‘female’. A UN spokesperson admitted to GSN that the standard form wasn’t appropriate for a gender identity expert. Those with other genders could, perhaps, tick both boxes, he suggested. And there are a couple of other things applicants should know about the job.

First, it is unpaid. The LGBTI expert will get expenses and the support of the UN Human Rights Commission secretariat. But they will be expected to have ‘independent means’ or another source of income that will support them.
Independent experts are, therefore, often university professors or lawyers whose other jobs support the role. This was widely misreported at the time of the vote. And secondly, it is part time.

So how long does the UN think is needed to visit countries, draft reports, engage stakeholders and attend meetings in New York and Geneva as its first and only LGBTI expert? ‘An estimated total of approx three months per year.’
Applications are open here and will close on 4 August. The Human Rights Council will appoint the chosen expert at its September meeting.

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