29th session

GENEVA, June 15 – July 3, 2015

Download our analysis of the session: Addressing SOGIEI at HRC29.

Our report is also available in French and in Spanish.

 Read the joint NGO statement on SOGII issues, signed by over NGOs from 105 countries

Read Arvind Narrain’s article on the Report by the OHCHR on violence and discrimination) based on SOGI

 The highlight of the 29th Session of the Human Rights Council from the point of view of the rights of LGBTI persons was the release of the Report of the High Commissioner on human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The Report itself (which is a highly significant document) polarized state opinion into those who were totally supportive and those who were strongly opposed. However going beyond the dynamics of the Council session, the Report, as a detailed study by a credible organization, has the potential for becoming an important tool for global as well as regional and national advocacy. (Find more about the Report here: “The Second UN Report on discrimination and violence based on SOGI:  Conceptual advances, political polarizations and the way forward“, by Arvind Narrain).

The increasing mainstreaming of the rights of LGBTI persons was reflected in the fact that that as in previous sessions, LGBTI issues found mention in the Reports of many Special Rapporteurs including the Special Rapporteurs on the right to heath, and the protection of human rights during counter terrorism, as well as in state and civil society responses to the same.

Even as the rights of LGBTI persons are possibly more mainstreamed than ever before, the opposition to granting these rights remains as strident as ever. Apart from openly and viciously homophobic statements by states opposed, the opposition is also crafting other strategies. Part of the new strategy is to couch their opposition in more subtle terms. An excellent example in this Council is how the resolution to protect the family became a theatre for shadow boxing wherein the code for supporting the resolution was seen as an opposition to the so-called ‘LGBTI agenda’. It’s important to understand that sometimes opposition is brutal and direct and at other times states oppose the rights of LGBTI persons through seemingly indirect means, such as resolutions on traditional values and resolutions on protecting the family.

This Council session also brought sobering attention to the depth and gravity of violation of the rights of LGBTI people. Perhaps of gravest significance is the war declared by ISIL against those who are LGBTI as seen by reported cases of killing on suspicion of being homosexual.

In the 29th Human Rights Council, the importance of understanding the rights of LGBTI persons as part of the wider human rights framework was addressed again and again. The larger frame under which we can envisage and understand the opposition to the rights of LGBTI persons is as a challenge to the core principle of human rights, that rights are vested in all persons by virtue of being born, i.e. the principle of universality.

Side events

Obstacles faced by LGBTI rights defenders throughout the world, was the focus of the side event “Voices of LGBTI defenders” during the 29th Session of the Human Rights Council. The panel discussion was organised in collaboration with ILGA World, CIVICUS, Iranti, ISHR (the International Service for Human Rights), Mulabi and United and Strong. On the panel were Kenita Placide (United and Strong – Saint Lucia), Joshua Sehoole (Iranti-org – South Africa), Natasha Jimenez (Mulabi – Costa Rica) and Zhan Chiam (ILGA)

LGBTI rights defenders discuss their challenges at HRC29 Side event

Activists reply to questions from the floor at HRC29 Side event:

UPR report adoptions

The UPR report adoption process affords an opportunity to commend those States which have responded favourably to relevant recommendations, and to encourage States who have not to address these issues more positively in future.

Many relevant recommendations relating to sexual orientation and gender identity issues were raised during the UPR of those States whose reports are due to be adopted. A full list of UPR recommendations and responses given is outlined in the report of the session (also available in French).