Equal Rights and the United Nations

Recently, the Human Rights Council of the United Nations updated their previous resolution 27/32 on “Discrimination and violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity”.

A report submitted in 2011 had some similar language; the United Nations Human Rights Commissioner submitted a report detailing the “pattern of discrimination and violence directed at people in all regions on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity”. Three years later, this report is outdated. In the new UN resolution, the Human Rights Council is requesting the High Commissioner to update the report by adding in ways to overcome this violence and discrimination, in accordance with the international human rights laws and standards that are already in place.

Though the report in 2011 was, until now, the most recent update to the international justice for members of the LGBT/intersex community, many states have been making updates of their own. Governments in many of the member states have already been pursuing different initiatives to work to reduce discrimination based on sexual orientation. Since the resolution in 2011 there have been 14 states that have strengthened their anti-discrimination and hate crime laws, or have adopted new ones. Some have even introduced new legal protections for intersex individuals. Dozens of countries are introducing gender/sexuality sensitivity training to employees in the private sector, LGBT characters are being integrated into television shows, and overall LGBT and intersex human rights defenders are more vocal and visible in their defense of this community.

While these are good advances, they unfortunately are still too often overshadowed by widespread human rights violations. The report of 2011 did not stop hundreds of individuals from being killed in attacks due to reasons of sexuality and gender identity. Thankfully, this is what the United Nations Human Rights Council is focusing on bringing justice against. This report’s update will, ideally, protect individuals from violence, obligate states to “respect, protect, and fulfill the human rights of all persons within their jurisdiction”, protect individuals from discrimination, and decriminalize homosexuality/repeal laws used to punish individuals on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The conclusion (the recommendation by the High Commissioner to the States on how to address violence) is as follows:

The High Commissioner recommended that the states enact hate crime laws that establish homophobia and transphobia as aggravating factors for purposes of sentencing, recommended that investigations on incidents of hate-motivated violence be prompt and thorough, prohibited incitement of hatred and violence on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, and ban “conversion” therapy to members of the LGBT/Transgender community.

Great advances toward equality, and yet more support for the idea that no one should be discriminated against.

Read the full report, and see another summary on this information by The Human Rights Campaign at the link below.