States: Ensure protection and accountability for attacks against LGBTI persons, defenders and associations


The Human Rights Law Centre, together with ISHR, the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, Justice for Sisters (Malaysia) and the Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (Uganda) call on States to ensure effective protection and real accountability for attacks against LGBTI persons, defenders and associations.

(Geneva) - ISHR has joined with the Human Rights Law Centre and the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association to call on States to ensure effective protection and real accountability for attacks against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons, defenders and associations.

The joint statement to the UN Human Rights Council coincided with an unprecedented joint initiative by 12 UN agencies calling on governments around the world to take action to end violence and discrimination against LGBTI people. The joint initiative sets out steps governments, in particular, should take to curb violence and protect individuals from discrimination – including measures to improve the investigation and reporting of hate crimes, torture and ill-treatment, to prohibit discrimination, and to review and repeal all laws used to arrest, punish or discriminate against people on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. 

The statement also coincided with the release of the recent report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders (UN Doc A/70/217), to be presented to the UN General Assembly in October, in which he confirms that LGBTI defenders are among those most exposed and at risk of all defenders. Because of their work and because of their identities and characteristics, LGBTI human rights defenders are exposed to heightened levels of violence, stigmatisation, discrimination, attacks and other human rights violations.

The joint NGO statement highlighted the duty of States to promote and protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms and condemned restrictions imposed on LGBTI persons and those advocating for them, including anti-cross-dressing legislation in Malaysia and legislation criminalising homosexuality in Uganda. The statement was supported by Justice for Sisters, Malaysia and the Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum, Uganda.

‘It is deplorable that 22 years on from the adoption of the Vienna Declaration, people continue to suffer systemic discrimination, violence and persecution as a result of their sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status, or because of their work to stand up and speak out for equal rights,' said Human Rights Law Centre’s Director of Advocacy, Anna Brown.

‘The joint initiative by the UN agencies is a powerful call for States to take action to fulfil their duty to protect LGBTI persons, and those advocating for them. In this regard, States should repeal restrictive laws which are incompatible with international human rights standards, and enact legislation to promote and protect equal rights for LGBTI persons and organisations and ensure respect for their rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly,' said ISHR's Tess McEvoy.

The NGO statement also welcomed positive developments for the promotion and protection of equal rights for LGBTI persons, such as:

  • moves by Australia and the United Kingdom to expunge historic convictions for consensual homosexual conduct;
  • reforms in Malta and Ireland to ensure access to identity documents for transgender and intersex people without invasive medical treatment and, in the case of Malta, protecting intersex people from unnecessary and invasive medical treatment; and
  • improved responses to LGBTI hate crime, including training of law enforcement officials and specific taskforces or prosecuting teams dedicated to tackling bias-motivated violence such as in Spain, Honduras and South Africa.  

Building on the words of former High Commissioner for Human Rights and ISHR Board member, Navi Pillay, in a vision statement at Vienna+20 ‘a huge amount of work remains to be done at the international level to transform human rights from abstract promises to genuine improvement in the daily lives of all people, especially those who are currently marginalized or excluded’.[1] The lives of LGBTI defenders, those most exposed and at risk, need to be protected.

For more: see video of ISHR's joint statement with HRLC and ILGA to the Human Rights Council on the recognition of LGBTI rights and the protection of LGBTI human rights defenders



  • Africa
  • Asia
  • Pacific
  • Europe
  • Human rights defenders
  • LGBT rights
  • United Nations
  • UN Human Rights Council
  • Australia
  • Honduras
  • Ireland
  • Malaysia
  • Malta
  • South Africa
  • Spain
  • Uganda
  • United Kingdom