Suriname

For a summary of Surinam’s review at the second cycle please click here.

11th UPR session
Date of review: 6 May 2011
Date of report adoption: 22 September 2011
Working Group report: A/HRC/18/12

Summary

Recommendations made: Equalise the age of consent for opposite and same-sex conduct, and adopt appropriate legislative and other measures to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Status of recommendations: Rejected.

I. Key issues/recommendations identified by NGOs

  • Adopt appropriate legislative and other measure to prohibit and eliminate discrimination in the public and private spheres on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity;
  • Consider applying Yogyakarta Principles on the Application of International Human Rights Law in relation to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity as a guide to assist in policy-making in this area.

II. Excerpts from input reports
There were no references to sexual orientation or gender identity in the national report, the compilation of UN information, or the summary of stakeholders’ information.

III. References to SOGI during the Working Group review
Presentation by the State under review

20. The delegation indicated that the Netherlands, Norway and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland had raised several issues regarding the position of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Persons. The question had been posed as to which measures Suriname took in order to protect the rights of sexual minorities and to promote their emancipation.  The delegation stated that the Surinamese law protected individuals against discrimination and that Article 8 of the Constitution stipulated that nobody may be discriminated against. As to the specific question regarding LGBT persons, the delegation underlined that this matter had the Government’s attention. The main course of action would be to initiate a general discussion on this sensitive issue, involving all actors in society, including religious organizations and LGBT platform groups and individuals.

Interactive dialogue and responses by the State under review

42. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland acknowledged Suriname’s record in many areas discussed during the Universal Periodic Review and expressed the hope that, in future, greater attention could be given to LGBT issues and rights in the national report. It encouraged Suriname to devote attention to issues relating to prison and detention conditions. It made recommendations.

49. The Netherlands commended Suriname on the candour of its national report and appreciated answers provided to questions. It noted several initiatives to promote gender equality, such as, the ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the criminalization of marital rape and certain research projects described in its report. It acknowledged significant changes in the justice system in the past few years. It also noted that the national report did not address the position of LGBT. It made recommendations.

IV. Conclusions and/or recommendations
The following recommendations did not enjoy the support of Suriname:

73.49. Equalise the age of consent for opposite and same-sex conduct, and adopt appropriate legislative and other measures to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity (Norway);

73.50. Equalise the age of consent for opposite and same-sex conduct, and adopt legislative and other measures to explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity (Netherlands);

V. Adoption of the Report
Response of the State under review – Addendum 1 to the report of the Working Group

6. A number of recommendations require broad social debate and a thorough study. Implementation will require the formulation of adequate national policy. Simply approving these recommendations is neither possible nor realistic; therefore the State is – for the time being – unable to accept the recommendations categorized under paragraph 4. Nevertheless, the Government of the Republic of Suriname appreciates all recommendations made in reference to this report. Recommendations which cannot be supported, concern the following issues:

10. Discrimination of LBGT (recommendations 73.49-73.50)

Debate with religious authorities and other groups regarding the extension of special rights to LBGT individuals, is necessary. National legislation offers protection of human rights to all Surinamese citizens, as well as all others on Surinamese territory; hence LBGT individuals enjoy the same protections as all others. Even though sexual orientation remains a sensitive and controversial issue, the Government will endeavor to undertake those steps necessary to address all concerns.

Presentation by the State under review

The delegation stated that another highly sensitive issue was that of specific recognition of the rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) individuals. The Government felt that the constitution of the Republic of Suriname provided adequate protection from discrimination to all. The constitution stated that no individual might be discriminated against because of birth, sex, race, language, ancestry, education, political persuasion, economic status, social circumstance or any other status.

Notwithstanding the above, any attempt to embed specific rights for LGBT individuals in its legislation, was doomed to failure without the support of Parliament. Since Parliament was but a reflection of the people, any legislative initiative regarding such a highly controversial issue, must be preceded by a broad national discussion, in which the views of both the LGBT individuals, as well as those of other relevant groups in society, should have to be taken into account and respected.

Comments by States

United States

The United States of America expressed appreciation for the serious commitment with which Suriname had approached the Universal Periodic Review. It also appreciated the support given by Suriname to its recommendations to convene a conference on indigenous peoples and to continue working with the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples. The United States was also grateful for information provided on the recommendations related to the protection of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons from discrimination. It welcomed a constructive dialogue on this issue and noted that, in its addendum, Suriname placed these recommendations in a distinctive category, apart from those it had supported or rejected. It urged the Government to continue to consider recommendations that legislations protecting LGBT persons from discrimination be adopted.

Comments by stakeholders

Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network and Suriname Gay Men United (on behalf of a collation of Surinamese organisations)

Madam President,

We are pleased to see that the Government of Suriname will endeavour to undertake steps to address concerns with regards to sexual orientation and gender identity.  Whilst we agree on the fact that national legislation offers protection for human rights to all Surinamese citizens under the constitution Article 8.2 of which states that no one may be discriminated based on any status, we encourage the government to explicitly include sexual orientation and gender identity as grounds for discrimination.

We believe that this will create a situation where both government and policymakers can make sure that Surinamese citizens, including gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people will be able to live freely and enjoy the same protection against discrimination as other citizens.

Therefore we urge the government of Suriname:

–   To include sexual orientation and gender identity explicitly in article 8.2. of the constitution, and furthermore effectuate this article with developing specific sanctions for violation of this article, since this is lacking within the constitution. Not only the LGBT community will benefit from this effectuation, but all Surinamese citizens;

–   To establish cooperation with the LGBT organizations in Suriname for the development of laws, policies and programs to combat discrimination;

–   To present a timetable identifying the steps that the government will undertake.

Whilst we agree that these issues might be sensitive and require dialogue, we are of the opinion that granting equal rights to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens is not a matter of granting special rights, but rather a matter of applying existing human rights norms and principles to all citizens.  As UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon recently stated to this Council: “No doubt deeply rooted cultural sensitivities can be aroused when we talk about sexual orientation. Social attitudes run deep and take time to change. But cultural considerations should not stand in the way of basic human rights.”

We thus encourage the government of Suriname to take leadership in assuring that dialogue around these matters happens on the notion that human rights apply to all, are universal and that human rights are indivisible.

Finally, we recommend Suriname to apply the Yogyakarta Principles on the Application of International Human Rights Law in relation to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity as a guide to assist in policy development.

Thank you Madam President

Concluding remarks of the State under review

The delegation was grateful for the opportunities to respond to recommendations made by non-governmental organisations and States. With a view to clarifying the issues of LGBT individuals in Suriname, the delegation reiterated that the constitution of Suriname provided equal rights to all its citizens. The Government of Suriname had never received any report from any organization that LGBT persons were discriminated. The delegation stated that, should written reports on specific instances of discrimination of LGBT individuals be received by the Government, these would be investigated and dealt with.

VI. Further information
UPR Documentation

National report 1 :  AC | E | FR | S
Compilation of UN information 2 :  AC | E | FR | S
Summary of stakeholders’ information 3 :  AC | E | FR | S
Questions submitted in advance :  E only
Addendum 1 :  E only
Addendum 2 :  E only

Outcome of the review
Report of the Working group: A | C | E | F | R | S
Addendum : E
Decision of the outcome : A | C | E | F | R | S
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