High-level Panel at UN on Ending Criminal Laws and Violence against LGBT People

At a high level event at the United Nations in Geneva on 17 September, 2010, a panel of experts stressed the need to end violence and criminal sanctions on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, and Nobel Peace Prize Winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu joined with civil society representatives from Cameroon, Guyana and India to call for an end to human rights violations directed against LGBT people. The panel was co-sponsored by a cross-regional group of 13 States (Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Finland, France, Ireland, Mexico, Norway, Romania, Slovenia, Timor-Leste, United States of America and Uruguay), with support from ARC International and the International Commission of Jurists and COC Netherlands.

Statement of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon:
“The responsibilities of the United Nations and the obligations of States are clear. No-one, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, should be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. No-one should be prosecuted for their ideas or beliefs. No-one should be punished for exercising their right to freedom of expression.”
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Statement (Français)
Statement (Espanol)

Statement of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay:
“Our first priority should be decriminalization worldwide,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay. “As long as individuals are criminalized purely because of who they are, they will continue to suffer injustice.”
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Statement of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize winner:
“You, at the United Nations, have a particular role to play. You have a responsibility. Whenever one group of human beings is treated as inferior to another, hatred and intolerance will triumph. Lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender people … they look to you for recognition of their right to equal dignity and respect. Do not fail them.”
Video Message – Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Statement (English)
Statement (Français)
Statement (Espanol)

Statement of David Clarke:
“The LGBT people of Guyana, and in particular our transgender population, are constantly victims of harassment by police officers and other private citizens. The mere existence of laws criminalising cross-dressing gives State officers and private citizens the belief that their discriminatory actions are legitimized.”
David Clarke’s (SASOD) Presentation

Statement of Sunita Kujur:
“You can imagine the kind of violence and discrimination that people face when they choose a same-sex partner. It is more pronounced for women who choose other women, as there is tremendous pressure on women to get married … or hide their sexuality”.
Sunita Kujur (CREA) Presentation