Time for UN and States to take a stand against homophobia and transphobia


The UN Human Rights Council and States should take action to combat homophobia, transphobia and the endemic of violence and discrimination against people on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

(Geneva) - Gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex people around the world are being targeted by repressive legislation on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity with increasing frequency and severity. Particularly stringent laws have been passed in Nigeria, Uganda, and Russia, while bills are under consideration in several other countries including Tanzania, Liberia, and Kazakhstan. Late last-year, India’s Supreme Court recriminalised consensual same-sex relations while, in the United States, a series of attempts have been made to pass state laws that would allow business owners to refuse service to LGBTI people.

‘These regressive initatives speak to the blatant discrimination still rife across the globe where LGBTI people in all countries still suffer stigmatisation and abuse, whether from work colleagues, schoolmates, in everyday interactions, or in the media’, said ISHR’s Dr Heather Collister.

17 May is International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT) and individuals, groups and organisations around the world will hold events to draw attention to the ongoing discrimination and human rights violations suffered by people solely on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

'ISHR joins its voice to those calling for an end to criminalisation and stigmatisation and for respect, tolerance and freedom for all, regardless of people’s sexual orientation and gender identity,' Dr Collister said.

'In contexts where many people are afraid to speak out for the rights of LGBTI people for fear of the repercussions they may face as a result, this global day of support and solidarity gives voice to the millions of LGBTI people who cannot freely express themselves,' said Dr Collister.

According to a group of UN and regional human rights experts, the challenges faced by human rights defenders working on these issues include threats, attacks, criminalisation, and defamation, while peaceful assemblies, rallies, and parades that are pro-LGBTI are often prohibited or confined to venues out of public sight.

‘We condemn acts of retaliation, intimidation, or harassment in any sphere (whether public or private) based on a person’s manifestation or expression of their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression’, the experts said. ‘We call on States to renew their efforts to address this critical human rights issue at the Human Rights Council and in regional intergovernmental bodies.’

In just a few weeks the UN Human Rights Council will start its 26th session in Geneva. It is anticipated and hoped that the Council will adopt a follow up to its first ever resolution on LGBTI rights in 2011.

‘In a global context where the daily conditions for many LGBTI people are getting worse, and where human rights defenders are afraid to speak out on their behalf for fear of the repercussions they could face, the Council must ensure that it consistently monitors the situation of LGBTI people and that it holds States accountable for protection of their rights’, said Dr Collister.

‘The time has come for the UN's peak body to mandate an independent expert or establish a process or procedure to monitor and report on violations against LGBTI persons and to advise States as to how best to respect and protect their rights.’

Contact: Dr Heather Collister on h.collister@ishr.ch

Photo: Jessica Rinaldi - Reuters


  • LGBT rights
  • UN Human Rights Council
  • Nigeria
  • Russia
  • Uganda
  • United States