United Nations calls for end of violence, discrimination against LGBTI
The United Nations (UN) has called on countries to end violence and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people.
In a joint statement, twelve UN organizations urged Member States to “protect, respect and fulfill” the rights of LGBTI people “to live free from violence, persecution, discrimination and stigma”, while asking these states to repeal discriminatory laws.
“All people have an equal right to live free from violence, persecution, discrimination and stigma. International human rights law establishes legal obligations on States to ensure that every person, without distinction, can enjoy these rights,” the statement read.
“While welcoming increasing efforts in many countries to protect the rights of LGBTI people, we remain seriously concerned that around the world, millions of LGBTI individuals, those perceived as LGBTI and their families face widespread human rights violations. This is cause for alarm – and action,” the organizations urged.
United Nations documentation of cases
According to the UN, there are “documented widespread physical and psychological violence against LGBTI people in all regions, including murder, assault, kidnapping, rape and sexual violence, as well as torture and ill-treatment in institutional and other settings.”
Likewise, the UN said that in many countries, the response to these violations is inadequate while in others, human rights defenders challenging these violations are frequently persecuted and face restrictions on their activities.
The UN also noted the legislative framework exacerbating the situation, with 76 countries criminalizing consensual same-sex relationships between adults. These laws expose individuals to the risk of arbitrary arrest, prosecution, imprisonment and even the death penalty in at least five countries.
The world organization further reported that punitive environments that marginalize LGBTI people also create significant challenges in responding to HIV. Gay men and other men who have sex with men are 19 times more likely to be living with HIV than the general population, and HIV prevalence among gay men and other men who have sex with men is rising in certain regions, including Asia and the Pacific and Latin America. Transgender women are 49 times more likely to be living with HIV.
In addition to violating the fundamental human rights of LGBTI people, punitive laws severely restrict the ability of LGBTI people to access critical HIV and other health services. Service providers are often forced to stop working, owing to harassment or fear of prosecution.
The United Nations Secretary-General’s support
The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, re-affirmed his support for LGBTI rights with a message delivered during last year’s UN General Assembly.
“The fight for human rights—and the fight against discrimination—lies at the core of the mission of the United Nations. The fight for equal rights demands global engagement. That is why the United Nations actively works to tackle homophobia and transphobia around the world,” the UN Secretary-General said.
The UN entities that have signed the joint statement on ending violence and discrimination against LGBTI people include: the International Labour Organization (ILO); the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR); the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
Other signatories include: the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR); the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF); the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC); the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women); the World Food Programme (WFP); the World Health Organization (WHO); and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).