BANGKOK / GENEVA (30 November 2016) – Five key steps are needed to end discrimination and violence against the worldwide LGBT community, a United Nations human rights expert has told an international conference in Thailand.
The linchpins include lifting criminal laws which affect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, and no longer seeing the community as suffering from a disorder, Vitit Muntarbhorn declared in his keynote address to the world conference of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA).
Other key steps include giving all people the right to have their gender identity recognized on official documents, working with different cultures and religions to ensure inclusive practices, and ensuring children grow up with the ability to empathize with people of different sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI), he said.
Mr. Muntarbhorn, the UN first Independent Expert on Protection against Violence and Discrimination based on SOGI, told the Bangkok conference that the five key goals – decriminalization, depathologization, recognition of gender identity, cultural inclusion and empathization – could only be delivered with a broad global partnership.
He said it had been a “quantum leap” for the world community to create the new mandate, which he took up on 1 November 2016. He said the mandate would advance the commitment to “leave no one behind” in the new 2030 global development agenda.
“The new mandate gives voice to our global message: Treat people decently, respectfully, kindly, humanely whatever their origins, or our origins,” he told participants.
All people, he said, were invited to “open their hearts and minds to the beauty of diversity”, including in the areas of sexual orientation and gender identity.
Mr. Muntarbhorn highlighted that human rights advocates working with LGBT people were also coming under attack.
“Resolute action is required to stop the violence and discrimination affecting not only LGBT communities but also the human rights defenders working with them,” he said. “This goes hand in hand with the broader aspirations of human rights, freedoms, democracy, and peaceful and inclusive societies.”
Mr. Muntarbhorn said the principle of non-discrimination lay at the heart of his mandate, and was clearly set out in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and developed by international human rights law and practice.
Some progress had already been made towards protecting and promoting the rights of LGBTI people, for example through UN resolutions, procedures and studies, but he stressed that much more work was needed to deliver an end to violence and discrimination by 2030, in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
(*) Read the Independent Expert’s full statement: http://bangkok.ohchr.org/news/press/VititFullStatement.aspx
Mr. Vitit Muntarbhorn (Thailand), Professor Emeritus at the Faculty of Law, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand, is the first UN Independent Expert on the protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI). He took up the newly created mandate on 1 November 2016. Lean more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/SexualOrientationGender/Pages/Index.aspx
The Independent Experts are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.