New UN report on discrimination and violence against LGBT people
The Kaleidoscope Trust welcomes a new report on the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people launched yesterday by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human rights. The report, drawn up by request of the UN Human Rights Council, is the second UN report of its kind and details how LGBT people around the world face criminalisation, violence, discrimination and marginalisation based on their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.
Persecution has a significant impact on the lives of LGBT communities in the Commonwealth. 41 of the 53 Commonwealth member states criminalise consensual same-sex activity in some way. Some 92% of Commonwealth citizens live in jurisdictions where same-sex activity is a criminal offence.
Anticipating publication of the UN report, the Commonwealth Secretary-General addressed the UN Human Rights Council in March this year stating:
"We are conscious of the importance of recognising that all individuals have a mutuality of respect, a multiplicity of identities reflecting their stage of life, their varied interests, their commitments, their beliefs, their aspirations, and much more. Each of these are rich veins of identity that become possibilities for building strong bridges over the sterile divides that are too-easily created, too-easily simplified, and too-easily exploited to our detriment as individuals and as a global community.
"We look forward to the publication of the report. We will be encouraging Commonwealth member states to reflect and act on its actionable recommendations in order to give effect to our shared commitment to dignity, equality and nondiscrimination." [Our emphasis]
Key amongst the more than 20 recommendations made by the report are that States:
- Repeal laws used to punish individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity, including laws that criminalise consensual same-sex relationships cross-dressing, and that restrict freedom of expression, association and assembly;
- Conduct prompt, thorough investigations of incidents of hate-motivated violence against and torture of LGBT persons, holding perpetrators to account, and providing redress to victims;
- Prohibit discrimination and incitement to hatred and violence against LGBT persons;
- 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 sterilisation of transgender persons and certain medical procedures on intersex children.
We welcome the opportunity to work with the Commonwealth Secretariat, Commonwealth States and Commonwealth civil society toward implementing the report’s recommendations in a way that is sensitive to the particular contexts of Commonwealth states and draws on the Commonwealth principles of diversity, tolerance and respect.
Read the full report here.