By Junior Mayema,
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights today issues a new report to the UN Human Rights Council on discrimination and violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity (A/HRC/29/23). The report — only the second ever official UN report on the subject* — was requested by the Human Rights Council in its resolution 27/32, adopted in September 2014. It will be presented formally to the Council at its forthcoming 29th session, later this month.
While noting important recent advances in the protection of the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) people, the report presents evidence of “continuing, pervasive, violent abuse, harassment and discrimination affecting LGBT and intersex persons in all regions.” It highlights the brutality of homophobic and transphobic violence and the wide-spread impunity with which it is often perpetrated, as well as the continued existence of discriminatory criminal laws in many countries, and the prevalence of “everyday discrimination” against LGBT people, fuelled by prejudice and facilitated by lack of effect anti-discrimination laws.
The report contains 20 recommendations directed at the national governments. Among them:
Repeal laws used to punish individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity, including laws that criminalize consensual same-sex relationships cross-dressing, and restrict freedom of expression, association and assembly;
Prohibit discrimination and incitement to hatred and violence against LGBT persons, and enact hate crime laws that punish those who target individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity;
Legally recognize same-sex relationships;
Ensure access to legal identity documents that reflect an individual’s self-identified gender, without imposing abusive pre-conditions; and
End abusive therapies and treatments to which LGBT people are often subjected — including so-called “conversion” therapy, forced sterilization of transgender persons and certain medical procedures on intersex children.
The report also calls on the Human Rights Council to “keep itself regularly informed” on the issue in future and encourages special procedures mandate-holders to continue to report on related violations within their respective mandates. It notes that “there is as yet no dedicated human rights mechanism at the international level that has a systematic and comprehensive approach to the human rights situation of LGBT and intersex persons.”
The report is available now on the official documentation webpage for the 29th session of the Human Rights Council (as always, the date on the report refers not to the date of issue but rather the date on which a lock was put on the text and it was sent to UN documentation services for formatting and translation). Link:http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/RegularSessions/Session29/Pages/ListReports.aspx
(look up doc. ref. no. A/HRC/29/23)
Thank you to everyone on this list who contributed to the report in one way or another — many provided inputs on both violations and State responses — and most of all to the brilliant, rigorous and indefatigable Cynthia Rothschild, who did so much to bring this report into the world.
*The first report (A/HRC/19/41), also a report of the High Commissioner to the Human Rights Council, was issued in December 2011, pursuant to Human Rights Council resolution 17/19.