December 15, 2011
UN Report calls on governments to combat discrimination and violence against LGBTI people
Orinam joins queer communities and human rights organizations around the world in welcoming the release of the first ever United Nations report on human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity. The report documents widespread discrimination and violence faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people worldwide, and calls on countries to apply the international legal framework to end these human rights violations.
The mandate for the report came from the UN Human Rights Council, after South Africa took leadership on the issue by coordinating a resolution at the world human rights body in June. The call was supported by a majority of the Council, including countries from all UN regions.
The resolution itself built upon decades of unshakable advocacy by LGBT human rights defenders. It could not have materialized without the legacy of people claiming the right to be free from violence, discrimination and persecution, and the right to have voice and to organize without threats to security.
Whilst the publication of the report and the increased support for LGBT rights at the UN marks significant progress on these issues, human rights defenders also underlined the need for urgent action to stop the rapes, killings and everyday exclusion and ostracism occurring the world over, and highlighted in the report.
“The brutalities and indignities suffered by LGBT persons have finally been recognized as violations of the core principle of the UN Charter namely the universality of human rights”, said Arvind Narrain of the Alternative Law Forum in Bangalore. “The UN report reaffirms the decision of the Delhi High Court that criminal laws against consensual same-sex conduct are incompatible with international human rights norms.”
The report calls on all governments to implement their commitments and obligations under international law, by protecting the rights of all persons, regardless of their sexuality, gender identity or expression. As UN human rights chief Navanetham Pillay highlights in the report, this includes protection and recognition of the self-identified gender of trans persons. It also includes protection from violence, killings, torture and abuse, including at the hands of family and community-members. The report calls for decriminalization of same-sex relations between consenting adults, and granting asylum to LGBTI individuals at risk, while also emphasizing the importance of freedom of expression and assembly, and non-discrimination in accessing employment, health care and education.
“As a human rights challenge, countering discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity should be non-controversial”, the High Commissioner has stated. “We are not trying to create new rights or extend human rights into new, uncharted territory. What we are doing is insisting that all people are entitled to the same rights and to the equal protection of international human rights law.”
Pillay is expected to present the report to the Human Rights Council at its next scheduled meeting in March 2012.
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