International community must condemn homophobic violence, harassment and discrimination

17.05.2013

(Geneva – 17 May 2013) – May 17 marks the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. Around the world, LGBT groups and their supporters will hold events to draw attention to the continuing and often extreme violations of human rights that deny millions of people across the world their basic human dignity.

‘Violations against LGBT persons take place in all regions of the globe, said Dr Heather Collister, head of the LGBT rights program at the International Service for Human Rights.

(Geneva – 17 May 2013) – May 17 marks the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. Around the world, LGBT groups and their supporters will hold events to draw attention to the continuing and often extreme violations of human rights that deny millions of people across the world their basic human dignity.

‘Violations against LGBT persons take place in all regions of the globe, said Dr Heather Collister, head of the LGBT rights program at the International Service for Human Rights.

‘76 countries around the world – nearly a third of all countries – continue to criminalise same-sex relations. In many other countries homophobic hate crime is on the rise. There is an urgent need for a concerted international response to these appalling human rights violations,’ Dr Collister said.

Earlier this week a gay man was brutally murdered in Russia in a crime that was clearly homophobic in its motivation. Almost as shocking as the nature of his killing were the comments of support that followed its reporting. Last month a gay couple were badly bashed in Paris, while in Ghana, after 34 school students were expelled for suspected lesbianism, a mainstream paper condemned the students as ‘bestial and detestable’.

In the first four months of 2013 alone, the Trans Murder Monitoring Project recorded 78 murders of trans people worldwide. Many of the cases documented involve extreme aggression, including torture and mutilation.

The findings of the Trans Murder Monitoring Project are consistent with those contained in a 2012 report by the world’s highest human rights official, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms Navi Pillay, which outlined myriad cases of violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

‘The High Commissioner’s report covers a huge range of violations, including killings, rape, torture, arbitrary arrest and detention, and violations of the rights to freedom of expression, assembly, and association,’ said Dr Collister. ‘It also documented extensive discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity in healthcare, education and employment.’

According to Dr Collister, however, the High Commissioner’s report is far from exhaustive. ‘One of the key recommendations in the report is the need for more extensive and regular research, documentation and reporting to the UN in order to build a full picture of the challenges facing LGBT people,’ she said.

In a week’s time the Human Rights Council will begin its 23rd session. ‘Over two years after the Council’s first, and to date only, resolution on sexual orientation and gender identity there is an urgent need for member States to unequivocally condemn homophobic violence, harassment and discrimination.’

At a meeting held last month in Oslo, organised by South Africa and Norway to discuss the way forward for the UN, Ms Pillay told delegates from States, the UN and civil society that LGBT people, ‘are looking to the UN for protection. They expect us to live up to our ideals of equal rights for all, no distinctions, no exceptions. We must not betray them.’

‘The composition of the Human Rights Council is more favourable to LGBT rights than it has ever been’, said Dr Collister. ‘If the Council does not take this opportunity to act, it will rightly be seen by many LGBT people as an egregious betrayal’.

Contact: Dr Heather Collister, International Service for Human Rights, at h.collister@ishr.ch or +41 79 920 3805

Category:

Topic
  • LGBT rights
Mechanism
  • Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
  • UN Human Rights Council
Country
  • Norway
  • South Africa