The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has played a key role in advocating equality and non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
Study documenting discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity EFSRCA
HRC resolution 17/19 (June 2011) requested the High Commissioner to prepare a study “documenting 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 how international human rights law can be used to end violence and related human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity”. The report was presented to the Human Rights Council at a panel discussion on the same theme at the 19th session in March 2012.
In September 2012, the OHCHR released a publication on sexual orientation and gender identity in international human rights law. It sets out the source and scope of some of the core legal obligations that States have to protect the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. The 60-page booklet is designed as a tool for States, to help them better understand the nature of their obligations and the steps required to meet them, as well as for civil society activists, human rights defenders and others seeking to hold Governments to account for breaches of international human rights law.
The booklet focuses on five core obligations where national action is most urgently needed – from protecting people from homophobic violence, to preventing torture, decriminalizing homosexuality, prohibiting discrimination, and safeguarding freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly for all LGBT people. For each, the basis of the State obligation in international human rights law is explained with reference to the substantial body of decisions, recommendations and guidance issued by United Nations human rights mechanisms. The booklet also includes examples of actions that can be taken at a national level to bring laws, policies and practices into line with applicable international human rights standards.
As part of the lead up to the 2011 International Day Against Homophobia, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights released a video and a pamphlet on violence and discrimination targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons.
In the video, the High Commissioner talks about recent violent attacks against LGBT people in the United States, Brazil, Honduras and South Africa, stressing that such incidents are not isolated but part of a global problem. “Ultimately, homophobia and transphobia are no different to sexism, misogyny, racism or xenophobia”, she notes “but whereas these last forms of prejudice are universally condemned by Governments, homophobia and transphobia are too often overlooked.” The full script is also provided on the OHCHR website as a Word document in English, French, Spanish and Arabic.
The pamphlet, entitled The United Nations Speaks Out: Tackling Discrimination on Grounds of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity is a collaborative effort between OHCHR, UNDP, UNAIDS and WHO. It presents extracts from many of the strong statements on the subject made by the Secretary-General, the High Commissioner and other senior UN officials, as well as by the UN treaty bodies, special rapporteurs and other UN agencies.
By issuing the pamphlet jointly, the participating agencies/entities send a clear message that United Nations partners speaks together on the issue.