The establishment of a dedicated protection mechanism to address SOGI-related human rights violations is a necessary step towards urgently addressing the grave violations on these grounds in every country around the world. We urge the Human Rights Council to act urgently and establish such a mandate.
In countries and regions around the world, individuals experience grave human rights violations on the basis of their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. These include murder, rape, assault, torture, arbitrary arrest, discrimination in access to health care, employment, housing and education, repression of freedom of expression and association, attacks and restrictions on human rights defenders, denial of police services, extortion, bullying, denial of one’s self-defined gender identity, and other abuses.
It’s time for the UN Human Rights Council to take meaningful action to end these abuses and advance positive reforms.
In June 2014, more than 500 NGOs from over 100 countries expressed profound concern at systemic human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Activists from around the world called on the UN Human Rights Council to ensure sustained, systematic attention to the breadth of human rights violations on these grounds, including through regular reporting and constructive dialogue. Now it is time to translate that call into action.
The Human Rights Council mandated the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to produce two groundbreaking reports focusing – for the first time in the history of the UN – on discrimination and violence against persons based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.
While these are welcome steps, it is time to move beyond one-off initiatives and piecemeal measures. As the High Commissioner noted:“current arrangements to protect the human rights of LGBT and intersex persons are inadequate”. The report emphasised “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”.
This protection gap urgently needs to be addressed. The undersigned organisations, from countries around the world, call on the Human Rights Council to address this gap through the creation of an Independent Expert to address discrimination and violence against persons based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
This UN mechanism should take into account the linkages to broader issues of gender equality, autonomy over bodies and lives, and sexual and reproductive health and rights, as well as the multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination on the basis of factors such as class, religion, gender, race, HIV status and disability.
We call for a SOGI Independent Expert to monitor and document human rights violations, prepare regular reports on issues such as root causes, trans rights, and protection gaps, engage with States from around the world to build awareness of SOGI issues, identify good practices and encourage reforms, help ensure the issues are better integrated throughout the UN system, work to support civil society and NGOs working on these issues, enhance regional and cross-regional collaborations and strengthen attention to the issues at the national, regional and international levels, highlight multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination, and further articulate and increases awareness of these connections, particularly by recognizing that SOGI issues are connected with a broad range of issues including gender equality, class, bodily autonomy, sexual and reproductive health and rights.
The establishment of a dedicated protection mechanism to address SOGI-related human rights violations is a necessary step towards urgently addressing the serious abuses on these grounds in every region of the world. We urge the Human Rights Council to act urgently and establish such a mandate. As UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon affirmed: “The time has come”.