A new battle at the UN could decide what 'LGBT' means

Each year a group of UN experts meet to decide, on behalf of the countries of the world, what it means to be healthy, sick, rich, poor, violent, peaceful, and a myriad of other states of well-being. Although this group is not very well-known in the human rights community, it may have more influence on global human rights than most other parts of the UN. The UN Statistical Commission is the department that decides how to define many of the terms used by governments. At its annual meeting this year, for the first time, issues of sexual orientation and gender identity were raised.

This discussion is vitally important to LGBT communities as the UN establishes the new development agenda and guides trillions of dollars of international aid and humanitarian relief programs over the next decades. The goals are the result of a long series of negotiations amongst governments, and one of the big questions has been whether these goals will explicitly include LGBT people, either now or in the future as the goals come under review.

For goals about equal access to healthcare, the Commission would need to figure out how to know to track who is and is not receiving healthcare. Similarly, if the UN wants to include LGBT people in its development agenda, then it will have to gather data about LGBT populations. Read More