Ending violence and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people
All people have an equal right to live free from violence, persecution, discrimination and stigma. International human rights law establishes legal obligations on States to ensure that every person, without distinction, can enjoy these rights. While welcoming increasing efforts in many countries to protect the rights of LGBTI people, we remain seriously concerned that around the world, millions of LGBTI individuals, those perceived as LGBTI and their families face widespread human rights violations. This is cause for alarm – and action. Failure to uphold the human rights of LGBTI people and protect them against abuses such as violence and discriminatory laws and practices, constitute serious violations of international human rights law and have a far-reaching impact on society – contributing to increased vulnerability to ill health including HIV infection, social and economic exclusion, putting strain on families and communities, and impacting negatively on economic growth, decent work and progress towards achievement of the future Sustainable Development Goals. States bear the primary duty under international law to protect everyone from discrimination and violence. These violations therefore require an urgent response by governments, parliaments, judiciaries and national human rights institutions. Community, religious and political leaders, workers’ organizations, the private sector, health providers, civil society organizations and the media also have important roles to play. Human rights are universal – cultural, religious and moral practices and beliefs and social attitudes cannot be invoked to justify human rights violations against any group, including LGBTI persons.
Protecting individuals from violence
States should protect LGBTI persons from violence, torture and ill-treatment, including by:
- Investigating, prosecuting and providing remedy for acts of violence, torture and ill-treatment against LGBTI adults, adolescents and children, and those who defend their human rights;
- Strengthening efforts to prevent, monitor and report such violence;
- Incorporating homophobia and transphobia as aggravating factors in laws against hate crime and hate speech;
- Recognizing that persecution of people because they are (or are perceived to be) LGBTI may constitute a valid ground for asylum, and not returning such refugees to a place where their life or freedom might be threatened.
The United Nations and others have documented widespread physical and psychological violence against LGBTI persons in all regions – […] They may also face abuse in medical settings, including unethical and harmful so-called “therapies” to change sexual orientation, forced or coercive sterilization, forced genital and anal examinations, and unnecessary surgery and treatment on intersex children without their consent. In many countries, the response to these violations is inadequate, they are underreported and often not properly investigated and prosecuted, leading to widespread impunity and lack of justice, remedies and support for victims. Human rights defenders combatting these violations are frequently persecuted and face discriminatory restrictions on their activities.