define('DISALLOW_FILE_MODS',true); Backgrounder


UN report on human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity


What is the report?

The report, prepared by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, documents discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity, in all regions of the world, and outlines how international human rights law can be used to end violence and related human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity.


Where can I find a copy?

You can access the report through the UN website at:

(UN document A/HRC/19/41). The report is currently available in English, Spanish, Russian and Arabic, and versions in the remaining UN languages (French and Chinese) will be added as they become available.


How did the report come about?

The UN Human Rights Council passed a resolution in June 2011 expressing grave concern at acts of violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and requested the High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare the report. The resolution was presented by South Africa and was supported by countries from all regions of the world.

Why is it important?

Around the world, people face human rights violations because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, including killings, torture, rape, criminal sanctions, and other forms of violence and discrimination. This is the first ever UN report to document these systematic human rights abuses, and to outline the international human rights legal framework as it applies to discrimination and violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The report affirms that States have a duty under international law to protect the human rights of all persons, including those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex.


What does the report conclude?

The report emphasises that the Human Rights Council and UN Member States have a duty to address human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Specifically, the report calls on States to:

  • Repeal provisions that criminalise same-sex relations between consenting adults, including the use of the death penalty;
  • Legally recognise the self-identified gender of transgender persons, including in identity documentation;
  • Include sexual orientation and gender identity in non-discrimination legislation, and address related discrimination in employment, access to health care and education;
  • Ensure an equal age of consent for opposite and same sex relations;
  • Ensure accountability for killings and other acts of violence based on actual or perceived sexual orientation, and gender identity and expression;
  • Provide sensitisation and awareness-raising for police and other law enforcement officials;
  • Recognise discrimination and violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity as valid grounds for asylum seeking;
  • Ensure the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly for all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.


What’s next?

  • The findings of the report are due to be presented and discussed by governments at an expert-led panel at the Human Rights Council in March 2012.  This will be the first UN debate specifically on human rights relating to sexual orientation and gender identity, and is expected to include discussions of what might be appropriate follow-up to the report.
  • Governments might officially endorse the report and work to implement the recommendations.
  • Activists, policy-makers, national human rights institutions and others are also likely to draw upon the report in their own local or regional efforts to advance recognition of human rights for LGBT people.