The UN’s Human Rights Council has published for the first time a report detailing rights abuses against LGBT people around the world, through violence and discriminatory laws, and a set of recommendations all countries should adopt to protect their citizens.
The document says global governments “have often overlooked violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity” and many enforce laws and practices which infringe human rights.
The report outlines what obligations the world’s governments have, and how individuals’ rights are currently abused, by criminal violence against LGBT people and by the discriminatory laws and practices adopted by some states.
Lance Price of the Kaleidoscope Trust said the report made “shocking reading”.
He said: “The UN Commissioner for Human Rights has made it clear that there can be no ifs and no buts. The rights of LGBT people are not special rights. They are the same basic human rights to which everybody is entitled.
“This report makes shocking reading. Lesbian and gay people are more likely to suffer torture, harassment and abuse. They suffer discrimination in health care, employment and education. They are threatened by discrimination not only in the law but also from the communities and families that should be there to support them. They are at a higher risk of suicide.
“And too often governments stand back and do nothing or, worse, encourage their persecution.
“The powerful recommendations set out today set a clear agenda for action and mark a major step forward in a global campaign for justice that gathers momentum every day.”
The UNHCR examines the landscape of gay rights abuses around the world and recommends the 193 member states of the UN:
- Promptly investigate of all reported killings and other serious incidents of violence perpetrated against individuals because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity,
- Prevent torture on the grounds of sexuality or gender identity,
- Ensure persecuted gays are not sent back to countries where their lives or freedoms would be threatened,
- Repeal all laws criminalising homosexuality, abolish the death penalty for consensual acts, and harmonise ages of consent,
- Ensure individuals can exercise their rights to freedom of expression and assembly,
- Facilitate legal recognition of the gender identity and reissue identity documents.
That was the first time the body had passed a resolution focusing specifically on sexual orientation and gender identity.
The resolution, which passed 23-19 with three abstentions, “affirms that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights and that everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms … without distinction of any kind”.
Andre Banks, co-founder of AllOUt.org, welcomed the UNHCR’s new report, after his organisation delivered a petition of nearly 250,000 names to the European Union calling on that body to address Russia’s “gay propaganda” laws.
He said: “Today the United Nations has sent a powerful message to member states around the world, echoing what Hillary Clinton said last week: Gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights.
“This groundbreaking report adds major momentum to the work that LGBT equality advocates are doing worldwide. We applaud the U.N. High Commissioner on Human Rights, and the South African government in particular, for their courage and commitment to this historic civil and human rights struggle.”
Alice Nkom, Attorney and founder of the Association for the Defense of LGBT Rights in Cameroon (ADEFHO), who was interviewed by PinkNews.co.uk last month, said: “I am so proud that this breakthrough was initiated by an African country, and that South Africa is standing up for human rights.
“Not only were they leaders at the United Nations in pushing for the passage of this historic resolution on LGBT rights, they are also setting an example for all African countries and sending a simple message: homophobia is not an African value.”