Lesotho (Cycle 2)

For a summary of Lesotho’s review at the first cycle please click here.

21th UPR session
Date of review: 21 January 2015
Date of report adoption: 13 April 2015
Document number: A/HRC/29/9

SUMMARY

SOGIESC issues during Lesotho’s 2nd UPR review
Civil society submissions: ✓ (2 submissions)
National report: ✘
UN information: ✓
Working group discussions: ✓
Recommendations: ✓ (6 noted)

I. SOGIESC issues/recommendations identified by NGOs

Equality and non-discrimination

15. Matrix Support Group Association (MSGA) stated that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons face discrimination from health care providers when accessing medical care for HIV and AIDS and other sexual health services. They also face discrimination when accessing services from public offices, such as the Chief’s Office.

Right to privacy, marriage and family life

27. CHRI noted that the Government of Lesotho rejected all the recommendations in relation to same-sex sexual conduct, received during the 2010 review. It stated that in 2012, a new penal code was introduced which does not address sexual orientation, but overrides the previous common law provisions which criminalised same-sex sexual conduct. Also, national legislation does not specifically address discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. CHRI recommended that the Government of Lesotho hold a constructive dialogue on sexual orientation and gender identity with all relevant stakeholders, including government ministries, civil society and religious leaders; introduce targeted policies to eradicate discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity; and provide appropriate training to law enforcement officials in accordance with the Yogyakarta Principles.

28. MSGA stated that diverse sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression are negatively viewed by society. The practice of same-sex relationships is regarded as being against Sesotho culture and principles of morality. This attitude is strongly woven into the fabric of society and people are exposed to marginalization, exclusion and gender based violence.

29. MSGA stated that the role of Christianity and traditions in Lesotho remain key elements in the Basotho Society and the position of Christianity and traditions is that same sex relationships are evil and foreign. For this reason, some churches do not accommodate members who are perceived as non-conforming in terms of their sexual orientation, gender identity and expression.

30. MSGA stated that both the customary law as well as the civil rights law perceives marriage to be a union between people of the opposite sexes, which is male and female. Marriage between persons of the same sex is regarded as wrongful and therefore cannot be entered into. MSGA stated that this is unconstitutional as it violates the right to choice, the right to privacy and family life as well as the freedom of association.

II. Excerpts on SOGIESC issues from the national report
No references.

III. Excerpts on SOGIESC issues by UN agencies
Equality and non-discrimination

18. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) stated that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersexed (LGBTI) individuals often faced daily discrimination by private individuals, lack of access to basic health services and to religious activities, as well as exclusion from the labour market.

19. UNCT stated that sex workers and LGBTI persons were continually discriminated against as they were considered to be immoral and engaging in illegal activity.

Right to privacy, marriage and family life

32. UNHCR stated that the ambiguity surrounding the legality and illegality of homosexual relations negatively affected the economic, social and cultural rights of LGBTI persons. Although sodomy was prohibited as a common law offence, same-sex relations between women were not overtly proscribed under the current legislation. The Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act prohibited male homosexuality and sodomy was listed as one of the offences for which arrests could be made without a warrant. Although the 2010 Penal Code Act brought about the implied legalization of same sex relations, the offence of sodomy had not been explicitly repealed. UNHCR recommended that Lesotho repeal legislation criminalizing male homosexuality.

33. UNHCR stated that the marriage institution in Lesotho was an exclusive domain of heterosexuals. Moreover, although no mention of homosexuals was made anywhere in the Adoption Proclamation, homosexuals were not able to adopt a child as a couple because they were not allowed to enter into the institution of marriage and because of the criminalization of male homosexuality.

IV. References to SOGIESC issues during the Working Group review
73. The delegation stated that no lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons had been prosecuted and emphasized that the matter was sensitive in the culture and society in Lesotho. The Government was engaged in dialogue on the issue with a view to reaching consensus.

76. Spain congratulated Lesotho on progress made, with the legalization in 2012 of homosexual relations. It noted the need to depoliticize public services and the armed forces, and to create institutions to safeguard human rights.

94. Australia expressed concern […] about the death penalty and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

97. Brazil was pleased at developments in Lesotho in the field of freedom of expression and the promotion of the rights of women, children and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons, as well as at the creation of the Ombudsman’s Office. It noted however that there was still room for improvement.

V. Conclusions and/or recommendations
Lesotho noted the following recommendations:

115.7. Repeal legislation criminalizing male homosexuality, and introduce targeted policies to eradicate discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (Slovenia);

115.8. Repeal all provisions of law criminalizing sexual activity between consenting adults (Australia);

115.9. Repeal legislation criminalizing consensual same-sex relations between adults (Canada);

115.13. Adopt norms that guarantee LGBTI people the full enjoyment of their rights on an equal footing, which simultaneously safeguard their non-criminalization and stigmatization (Argentina);

115.14. Enact measures to combat discrimination of LGBTI people and to ensure them equal access to public services such as health care and education (Netherlands);

115.15. Make progress towards the protection of LGBTI people, by creating the conditions allowing them to access to basic services in the fields of health, work and religious activities, and in addition by eliminating definitely from the Criminal Code sodomy as a crime (Chile).

VI. Further information
You will find all documents relating to Lesotho’s second review at UPR-Info and OHCHR’s websites.