Human Rights Council: Systemic discrimination against LGBT persons demands systemic response

24.09.2014

NGOs have stressed the importance of the Human Rights council adopting a resolution on human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity at its current session, while also emphasising that such a resolution would only be a partial response to the need for regular and systematic reporting on the issue at the UN.

(Geneva) – Civil society organisations from around the world have stressed the importance of the UN Human Rights council adopting a resolution on human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity at its current session, while also emphasising that such a resolution would only be a partial response to the need for regular and systematic reporting on the issue at the UN.

In a debate in the Council on 23 September, many non-governmental organisations highlighted ongoing cases of violence and discrimination faced by gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons, and the need for the Human Rights Council to address this systemic problem with a systemic response.

A draft resolution presented to the Council by Brazil, Colombia, Chile and Uruguay proposes a very modest step in this direction, calling for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a report by June 2015 on 'good practices and ways to overcome violence and discrimination'. Regrettably, the draft resolution does not call on the High Commissioner to regularly document and report to the Council on violations against LGBT persons, which is the bare minimum call of most NGOs and was reflected in the initial draft.

Mr Paisarn Likhitpreechakul, a human rights defender from Thailand working on LGBT rights addressing the Council on behalf of ISHR, highlighted that ‘the Council has a duty to ensure that it adequately and effectively responds to particular violence and discrimination faced by LGBT persons by, at the very least, requesting regular reporting specifically focused on this ground’. He added that ‘regular documentation and reporting is important for generating understanding of the nature and extent of violations, and promotes a sharing of good practices to assist all States to develop effective laws and policies to respond to the particular kinds of violations faced by LGBT persons in all parts of the world’.

Human rights NGOs stressed that the resolution to be considered later this week does not seek to create a new set of rights, but simply recognises that human rights are universal and that LGBT persons should be afforded the same rights and protection under international human rights law as other persons and groups.

Pointing to specific cases raised by UN Special Procedures on discrimination and violence faced by LGBT persons, Ms Kimberly Vance from ARC International asked those States who oppose attention to such cases ‘is there really no consensus on torture, rape, killings, harassment? Do lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex citizens not deserve equal protection from such abuses under the law?’

Mr Andres Rivero Duarte from the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) added a clear message to the Council: ‘Voting against this resolution, or seeking to defeat it by abstaining or amending it out of recognition, sends a message that the human rights of [LGBT] people do not count and are not even worthy of discussion by the world’s human rights body’.

Ms Anna Brown from the Human Rights Law Centre in Australia pointed out that ‘one of the benefits of concerted attention by the Council on specific human rights violations is increased information for sharing and learning from examples of positive practice from States’. She highlighted positive recent developments in Australia where two state governments introduced legislation to erase criminal convictions for consensual homosexual sex from the records of older gay men. She added that ‘however, violations are also experienced by LGBTI people in Australia, as they are across the world’, indicating that there is a global need for such a resolution by the Council.

This is a call that has been echoed by the Ambassador for Chile to the UN, Marta Maurás, in a recent opinion piece for ISHR, where she wrote that, 'the violence and discrimination faced by LGBTI people is a global phenomenon that requires a global response...Victims of brutal attacks, of exclusion and of stigma deserve our sustained attention. It is not a matter of creating new categories of human rights. Nothing can justify such violations, and none of us can ignore our obligation to prevent and address such violations, no matter what our cultural, traditional or religious values might be.'

Civil society representatives concluded with their resounding call – the time has come for the Council to respond to the mounting challenges facing LGBT communities in all regions of this world. 

Contact: Pooja Patel, International Service for Human Rights, on p.patel@ishr.ch

Category:

Region
  • Latin America and Caribbean
Topic
  • LGBT rights
Mechanism
  • Special Procedures of the UN Human Rights Council
  • UN Human Rights Council
Country
  • Australia
  • Brazil
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Uruguay