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Statement to UN: End discrimination based on gender identity, sexual orientation

A transgender person is seen during a rally to demand an investigation of homophobic crimes in San Salvador, 19 May 2012
A transgender person is seen during a rally to demand an investigation of homophobic crimes in San Salvador, 19 May 2012

REUTERS/Ulises Rodriguez

ARTICLE 19 today [24 June 2014] joined with 500 organisations calling for UN Human Rights Council (HRC) action on violence and discrimination against people on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.

In 2011, the HRC adopted its first resolution expressing “grave concern” at violence and discrimination against people on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. This led to a ground-breaking report by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on the topic. There has yet to be a follow-up resolution from the HRC.

In the joint statement, delivered by ILGA-World, the organisations cited how violence and discrimination against people because of their sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, or intersex status, remains a systemic and global concern.

At this Session, Maina Kiai, UN Special Rapporteur on the freedoms to peaceful assembly and of association, emphasised that “a nation that can silence one group can silence all groups”. Where marginalised groups, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people face discrimination, their freedom of expression, association and assembly rights are almost always first on the line for violations and abuse.

The joint statement reflects these concerns – pointing to the criminalisation of identities and expression; impunity for murder; opposition, obstruction and banning of the work of human rights defenders; the denial of free assembly and association rights, and attempts to silence diverse voices.

The situation is grave. There must therefore be a systematic response from the HRC through a resolution ensuring regular reporting, constructive dialogue and sustained systematic attention to the breath of human rights violations on these grounds.

Argentina, speaking to the HRC today [24 June 2014], reiterated its resolve to ensure that violence and discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity remain on the Council's agenda. Their statement was supported by Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, Mexico and Colombia, demonstrating strong leadership from the region on this issue.

Two years ago UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the HRC “the time has come” to act on discrimination and violence against LGBTI people. In 2014, ARTICLE 19 reiterates that there is no excuse for further delay.

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