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WHRD IC Welcomes the First UN Report on the Human Rights of LGBT People

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16th December 2011 – The UN Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Geneva issued its first ever report on the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people on Thursday. The report details that around the world people are killed or endure hate-motivated violence, torture, detention, criminalization and discrimination in jobs, health care and education because of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity, with lesbians and transgender women at particular risk.

The Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition (WHRD IC) is encouraged by the considerable attention the report gives to the experiences of LGBT defenders, and people defending rights related to sexuality and gender. The report also gives references to women’s sexual autonomy and clear attention to the attacks and restrictions on non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in various countries. The information in the report is based on UN sources, including the reporting of the current and former Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders.  There is also information from national, regional organizations and the courageous work of defenders who have made these issues public, often at great personal risk.

In the report, Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, calls on countries to repeal laws that criminalize homosexuality; “Special procedures mandate holders have emphasized the link between criminalization and homophobic hate crimes, police abuse, torture, and family and community violence, as well as constraints that criminalization places on work of human rights defenders working to protect the rights of LGBT persons.”

The report emphasizes that defenders of rights related to sexuality and gender and women defenders are at particular risk because they are seen to be “challenging accepted socio-cultural norms, traditions, perceptions and stereotypes about femininity, sexual orientation and the role and status of women in society.”

A resolution put forward by South Africa and supported by a range of states at the Human Rights Council in June resulted in this report, mandated to address violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The Human Rights Council will discuss the report – and any follow-up action – at its next session in March 2012.

The report, entitled Discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity, states that all people, including LGBT people, ‘are entitled to enjoy the protections provided for by international human rights law’. WHRD IC therefore encourages the use of this report by activists to hold governments accountable for protecting defenders’ rights.

(Please click this link to access the full report from the OHCHR website.)

The following WHRD IC member organisations also welcome the report:

Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD) • Center for Women’s Global Leadership (CWGL) • International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) • International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific (IWRAW-AP) • National Alliance of Women Human Right Defenders, Nepal (NAWHRD) • Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights (WGNRR) • FORUM-ASIA