OHCHR: Discriminatory Laws and Practices & Acts of Violence Against Individuals Based on their Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity

The United Nations has produced its first ever report on LGBT rights. The UN Human Rights Council requested the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, to prepare the report in a resolution in June of this year.

That resolution was led by South Africa and the brave Cameroonian lawyer and LGBT rights defender Alice N’Kom 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.”

The pro-LGBT Ugandan Anglican Bishop Christopher Senyonjo said:

“They have created an “indaba” – a listening process that is familiar to Africans. They have provided the safety for many thousands of people to open deep wounds again and share their stories, experiences and aspirations.  Their courage is to be commended in the hope the next generation may not have to suffer the indignities of our blood-stained past.”

“This work represents the possibility that we can to learn to respect each other, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.  We can learn to forgive each other for our complicity in silence or for acts of violence in word and deed against LGBT people.”

“There is another African tradition whereby the spilling of the blood of another is regarded as a major taboo and should be avoided by all faithful people. The spilling of blood caused by homophobia should become our global taboo. This report is a small step towards new possibilities and hopes.”

The findings of the report are due to be presented and discussed by governments at the Human Rights Council in March 2012.

Among its most important recommendations is a call for the decriminalization of same-sex relations between consenting adults. It also notes the particular experiences of lesbians and other women who suffer violence, killings, rape and abuse, often at the hands of family and community. The report includes a call for protection and recognition of the self-identified gender of trans persons.

On refugees and asylum seekers:

  • The UN urges governments to recognize persecution based on sexual orientation and gender identity as grounds for refugee status, and to train asylum adjudicators and government officials to be sensitive to the unique challenges faced by LGBTI refugees.
  • The report recognizes the extreme vulnerability of LGBTI refugees at risk of violence both before they flee their homelands, and during the refugee status determination and resettlement process. It also calls for a more consistent approach for safeguarding the human rights of LGBTI refugees.
  • The report urges governments not to return LGBTI refugees to countries they have fled where their freedom will be threatened because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Jessica Stern, Acting Executive Director of The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission said;

“The report is a tribute to all of the activists who have fought for recognition of homophobic violence and transphobic discrimination over decades, often in the face of extreme hostility. It will serve as an invaluable aid to each one of us who seeks to advance LGBT rights – not only at the United Nations but in cities and towns around the world.”

The release of Pillay’s report follows another landmark at the United Nations, which was the 10 December international consultation organised by UNESCO to address bullying against LGBT students in educational institutions. This took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and brought together experts from UN agencies, NGOs, ministries of education and academia from more than 25 countries around the world.

All participants of the consultation agreed on a joint statement. Chinese and African representatives at the event noted the importance of both sharing experience as well as evidence gathering to develop a “solid foundation when approaching schools and policy-makers.”OHCHR: Discriminatory Laws and Practices and Acts of Violence Against Individuals Based on their Sexual Ori…

Author: GLBTQ Jamaica Moderator

Activist and concerned gay man in Jamaica with over 19 years experience in advocacy and HIV/AIDS prevention work, LGBT DJ since 1996.

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