Geneva, 27 May to 14 June 2013
Annotations to the agenda (A/HRC/23/1): Arabic | Chinese | English | French | Russian | Spanish
Programme of Work for the 23rd session of the Human Rights Council (provisional; subject to change):
English and French
List of reports for the 23rd session of the Human Rights Council
Calendar of NGO parallel events for HRC23
Summary and Overview
Opportunities to raise awareness of human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity at the 22nd session of the Human Rights Council include:
General Debate following the High Commissioner’s update
The High Commissioner has played an active role in calling for an end to violence, discrimination and criminalisation based on sexual orientation and gender identity over recent months. As part of an anti-discrimination campaign, the OHCHR has committed to working with States, national human rights institutions and civil society to achieve progress towards the worldwide decriminalization of homosexuality and further measures to protect people from violence and discrimination on grounds of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The OHCHR recently produced a video for the International Day against Homophobia (May 17). In December 2011 the OHCHR published a report on violence and related human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity, as requested by HRC resolution 17/19. More information can be found at http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Discrimination/Pages/LGBT.aspx.
The High Commissioner recently released her Annual Report, which brings specific attention to the work of her Office in addressing human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Relevant State interventions might:
- commend the High Commissioner for her principled affirmation that no human being may be denied their rights, solely because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and note that this position is reinforced by the comments of the Secretary General, the HRC resolution on human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity, the findings of treaty bodies, and the clear evidence of human rights violations brought to the Council’s attention by its Special Procedures;
- commend the High Commissioner for her report (A/HRC/19/41) on Discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity and her contribution to the panel at the 19th session of the HRC, and encourage the OHCHR to explore opportunities for follow-up activities, such as further reporting, a study of best practices, an experts’ seminar with intergovernmental and civil society participation, regional consultations or other means to raise awareness of the issues;
- welcome the attention in the High Commissioner’s Annual Report to fighting discrimination against marginalised groups, including on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, and encourage the High Commissioner to continue to integrate the issues throughout the work of her Office, including at the field level.
Interactive Dialogue with Special Procedures
A number of Special Procedures address human rights violations based on sexual orientation or gender identity in their reports. Full details are provided in Annex I. In particular:
- The Special Rapporteur on racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance expressed concern about attacks by individuals linked to extreme-right and neo-Nazi groups against persons based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
- The Special Rapporteur on cultural rights expressed concern about laws in Russia prohibiting “propaganda of homosexuality”. She also expressed concern about “retrogressive trends on gender issues” in the Russian Federation along with a “political discourse on traditional values” which “has weakened the position of women in Russian society.”
- The Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty noted that “the criminalisation of sex work in Namibia lies at the foundation of a climate of stigma, discrimination and violence surrounding sex work” and recommended that Namibia “repeal the provisions relating to sex work in the Combating of Immoral Practices Act”.
- The Special Rapporteur on health further noted that the “possibility of arrest, detention and deportation due to immigration status further discourages access to health facilities, goods and services, particularly for transgender sex workers who may face severe discrimination and abuse in their home country”.
- The Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions included a chapter on the particular vulnerability of the right to life of LGBT persons in his country report on Turkey, noting 20 documented murders in a two year period that are believed to have been committed on the grounds of the victims’ sexual orientation or gender identity.
- The report of the Working Group on discrimination against women on their mission to Moldova noted that “women journalists who initiate and participate in public debates on issues which challenge traditional views face attacks and threats to their personal safety. Women lawyers who assist women victims of sexual offences are often accused of “defending prostitution” … Women activists who speak out in defense of the human rights of lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) have items such as eggs, bottles and stones thrown at them or their offices”.
- The Working Group was “additionally concerned about transgender women who are unable to amend identity documents following hormonal therapy or sexual correction because of court decisions which are reversed due to Government intervention” and noted that “these actions deny full enjoyment of human rights”.
Relevant State interventions might:
- commend the Special Procedures for their work in this area;
- highlight the serious human rights violations identified on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, including killings, rape, torture and violence;
- invite mandate holders to elaborate on what States can do to promote tolerance, respect for diversity and address the root causes of such violations;
- ask how the Council and its mechanisms can best promote and protect the human rights of the most marginalised, including those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex.
General statements – item 3 & 8
There will be opportunity for statements during general debate, particularly under item 3 (promotion and protection of all human rights) or item 8 (Follow-up and implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, which affirms the principles of universality and non-discrimination).
Statements by regional or cross-regional groupings might reference the recent panel on ending violence and related human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and call for constructive outreach and dialogue with a view to enhancing the Council’s capacity to fulfil its mandate by promoting and protecting human rights for all people without distinction.
UPR Report adoptions – item 6 (see Annex II of the document “Addressing SOGI at HRC23”)
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 for the States under review is attached as Annex II. In particular:
- Romania is expected to respond to recommendations to: a) intensify training for State and local authorities and the public at large on international human rights standards, particularly those in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity, and; b) to ensure that acts of discrimination against LGBT persons and persons belonging to other vulnerable groups are properly investigated and perpetrators held accountable.
- Botswana is expected to respond to recommendations to: a) Take steps to implement comprehensive anti-discrimination laws, particularly to eliminate discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and; b) Engage in a dialogue to repeal laws which criminalize consensual adult same sex relations.
- Luxembourg is expected to respond to a recommendation to include ‘gender reassignment’ as a ground for protection in domestic anti-discrimination legislation.
- Barbados is expected to respond to a recommendation to implement measures to protect the LGBT population from harassment, discrimination and violence.
- Montenegro accepted a recommendation to establish effective mechanisms of dialogue with human rights defenders in the field of sexual minorities.
- Serbia accepted a recommendation to respond effectively to discrimination and violence against LGBT persons and ensure their safety during public events.
The annual full day of discussion on women’s human rights will be split into two panels, on “Taking stock of efforts to eliminate violence against women, from the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action to the 57th session of the Commission on the Status of Women” and “Setting Priorities for the Future: Strengthening the Work of the Human Rights Council and other Inter-governmental Bodies and Processes in the area of violence against women” respectively.
Statements for the first panel on taking stock of efforts to eliminate violence against women could:
- Express concern that whilst the VDPA affirmed the core principles of universality and non-discrimination, some States misquote the document to justify denying rights to certain categories of marginalised women, such as those who face discrimination based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.
- Note that Article 5 of the VDPA also underlines that while “historical, cultural and religious backgrounds must be borne in mind, it is the duty of States regardless of their political, economic and cultural systems to promote and protect all human rights”.
- Note that violence against women on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity continues to be documented in all regions of the world, and provide examples of how your State has taken steps to address such violence.
- Ask panelists how the VDPA and CSW can be used to effectively combat violence against marginalized women, such as those who face violence on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity, as well as violence against women which is justified by cultural, religious or traditional values.
Statements for the second panel on strengthening the work of the HRC and other bodies could:
- Thank the moderator for her work to bring a better understanding of violence against women, its causes and consequences, to the HRC, and for the many valuable recommendations presented by her mandate.
- Note that an emerging challenge in addressing violence against women based on sexual orientation and gender identity has been the use of traditional, cultural and religious values as a justification for such violence.
- Ask the panellists how to respond to those who use tradition, culture or religion to justify violence against marginalised women, including those targeted because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.