Intersections of Race and Sexual Orientation

UN World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance:
– Intersections of Race and Sexual Orientation

 

  • Issues of intersecting and multiple grounds of discrimination, including on grounds of sexual orientation, were discussed throughout the UN World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, and its related Preparatory Committees and Regional Meetings.
  • For example, Colombia affirmed the needs of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transsexuals in its plenary address,[1] and Mexico made a statement on behalf of GRULAC, affirming:[2]

“Many delegations in the Group also consider that sexual orientation ought to be listed as a cause of aggravated or multiple discrimination. … We shall also make good on commitments we made at the regional conference in Santiago.”

  • A joint statement was distributed by Brazil, Canada, Chile, Ecuador and Guatemala, citing CESCR General Comment 14 in support of the principle that non-discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation was firmly established within the UN system:[3]

“The universality of human rights is fulfilled by addressing abuses and by protecting the victims of discrimination.  These precedents demonstrate that the United Nations already recognizes that sexual orientation is a human rights issue.”

  • Paragraph 2 of the Durban Declaration was deliberately drafted in inclusive fashion to reflect these discussions:

“We recognize that racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance occur on the grounds of race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin and that victims can suffer multiple or aggravated forms of discrimination based on other related grounds such as sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, social origin, property, birth or other status.”

  • On September 1, 2001, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan delivered an address at the Global Compact Event held in conjunction with the WCAR, in which he emphasized:[4]

“[W]e want the [WCAR] Conference to impress on everyone the high costs of discrimination, and to mobilize every individual to do his or her part for peaceful, prosperous coexistence. The workplace is surely one of the front-lines. Discrimination on the basis of gender, race, age, disability, sexual orientation, background and other qualities is all too common.”

  • This approach is consistent with that adopted by the host country, South Africa which had supported the inclusion of “sexual orientation” in the Beijing Platform of Action in 1995:

“After the long history of discrimination in South Africa, we decided that when we were the government we would not discriminate against any group of persons. … To show that we do not have a short memory regarding matters of discrimination, our constitution [prohibits] discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. … We support the inclusion of sexual orientation in the Platform.”

  • The UN Special Rapporteur on Contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia & related intolerance has regularly highlighted intersections between race and sexual orientation in his reports noting, for example, that “Black homosexuals suffer from double discrimination, because of their colour and sexual orientation.”[5]
  • African NGOs have also emphasized the intersections of race and sexual orientation in a powerful statement on sexual orientation issues.

 


[1] See www.un.org/WCAR/statements/colombiaS.htm.

[2] See www.un.org/WCAR/statements/mexicoE.htm.

[3] A/CONF.189/12 (2001) at 109.

[4] http://www.racism.gov.za/substance/speeches/unevent.htm.

[5] E/CN.4/2006/16/Add.3.