Vitit Muntarbhorn, the first UN Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, ended his official ten-days visit to Argentina. During his country visit (from 1 to 10 March 2017), the Independent Expert held several meetings with government officials, activists, representatives of non-governmental organizations and civil society representatives in order to assess the situation of the LGBTI persons in Argentina.
Despite praising the progress made in terms of progressive laws and public policies meant to protect the rights of lesbian, gay and transgender persons, Mr. Vitit Muntarbhorn stressed the need to put a stop to the violence still existent in Argentina against LGBTI community, particularly police brutality towards transgender and gender-nonconforming persons:
“Many sources (both governmental and non-governmental) underlined that institutional violence is pervasive, historically deep rooted in society, and that it lies at the heart of the problem. Institutional violence, through negative acts and omissions on the part of State officials, is both a root cause of violence and discrimination in relation to SOGI, as well as an aggravating factor and a consequence, and it perpetuates the vicious cycle of abuses. Ostensibly, some law enforcement officials are involved in the violations, and a major dilemma is their impunity. This is compounded by difficulties facing victims and survivors in trying to access the justice system, given that there are inherent prejudices against the various groups who demand protection in relation to SOGI.”
These words attest the pertinence of the numerous Regional Action Alerts that ILGALAC has been issuing on a regular basis through its Regional Council and its Regional Secretariat (conducted by Josefina Valencia Toldano and Beto de Jesús) so as to condemn any action or speech that encourages violence or discrimination against LGBTI persons, and call upon the States to adopt urgent measures to ensure the protection and recognition of their rights and give concrete answers to all forms of violence, social exclusion and stigmatization, in full compliance with American Convention on Human Rights.
ILGALAC has endorsed (and subsequently safeguarded) the mandate of the Independent Expert on sexual orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI), and has accordingly assisted in the carrying out of the official visit. In this context, Pedro Paradiso Sottile, our Executive Director, had several meetings with Mr Muntarbhorn and Catherine de Preux De Braets (member of the Independent Experts’ working team) in order to facilitate the meetings with LGBTI organizations and civil society representatives, and cooperate with them in their various visits to Buenos Aires and the suburbs areas, La Plata, Rosario and Mendoza.
Pedro Paradiso Sottile stated: “We are very proud to have welcomed and accompanied the Independent Expert on his first official visit, inasmuch as it signifies a momentous event for the beginning and the materialization of his mandate, which itself represents a collective achievement concerning the protection and promotion of our human rights on a regional and international scale. The fact that he has chosen Argentina –host country of ILGALAC Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean– constitutes a clear message in view of the fact that we are part of a region that has endorsed the creation of the mandate. We therefore celebrate all the work done during his visit, as well as the remarkable commitment and dedication shown by his team so as to come in contact with the numerous local LGBTI organizations, find out about their needs, demands and projects, and gain as a result a thorough understanding of the situation of the LGBTI persons in Argentina. Undoubtedly, this strengthens our commitment to keep working together on the attainment of the goals and objectives of the mandate, denouncing all forms of violence against LGBTI persons everywhere.”
While the full report will be published at the UN Human Rights Council in June 2018, as an outcome of his country visit, the Independent Expert put forward an “End of Mission Statement” at a press conference, in which he commended Argentina for its commitment to the defense of human rights, especially with reference to certain anti discriminatory laws and policies –such as the law recognizing same-sex marriage (2010), the Law on Comprehensive Sexual Education (2006); the reform of the national Criminal Code to include femicide, which can include transgender women (2012); the Gender Identity Law (2012), and a repeal of the restrictions that barred people from donating blood based on their sexual orientation (2015)–, and nonetheless analyzes the social, economic, cultural and institutional factors that lie at the base of the current violence against LGBTI persons in this country.