The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) released “Discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity”, the first ever United Nations report addressing the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.
The report, submitted to the Human Rights Council for its nineteenth session (Geneva, March 2012), highlights the ongoing and vicious homophobic and transphobic violence and discriminatory practices fuelled by people’s sexual orientation or gender identity – practices that are insufficiently addressed and condemned by Member States. Every year, LGBT people all around the world face the threat of being murdered, kidnapped, assaulted, tortured, psychologically threatened or arbitrary deprived of liberty, whether by religious extremists, paramilitary groups, neo-Nazis, extreme nationalists, family or community members and others, the report explains. It also highlights that such violence often goes unreported, due to a lack of trust in police and law enforcement or fear for reprisals.
At a Human Rights Day event at UN Headquarters in New York, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Ivan Šimonović,said“In many countries, discrimination towards gay and lesbian people is hardwired into the law. […] We know from experience that discriminatory laws reinforce and lend legitimacy to discriminatory attitudes at a popular level. If the State treats some people as second class, or second rate, or, worse, criminals, because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, it invites members of the public to do the same. The result is an alarming and deeply entrenched pattern of violence and discrimination directed at people who are or are perceived to be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.”
To report proposes various responses for Member States to consider. Countries should, for example, abolish laws that criminalize homosexuality, as well as the death penalty for offences involving consensual sexual relation. The latter is still the case in Iran, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen. Counties should further harmonize the age of consent for heterosexual and homosexual conduct, and endorse comprehensive anti-discrimination laws. Killings or violence based on sexual orientation or gender identity should be thoroughly investigated. The report also calls for public information campaigns to educate society at large on the rights of LGBT people, which should have the same human rights as any other person in this world, and to eradicate homophobia and transphobia.
To read the full report, clickhere.