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1st Official Report Released by High Commissioner for Human Rights: SO&GI Discrimination Around the World

Hello everyone,

Below please find a very important Report from the High Commissioner for Human Rights on SO&GI based discrimination around the world, as called for in this June 2011 Resolution by the U.N. Human Rights Council. I’ve not read it yet, but its very existence is a great boost to our cause, here at home and internationally.

We now need to make the case domestically that non-discrimination protections based on status (SO or GI) violates our human rights (which we also call “civil rights” here), and that our gov’t has a duty under international law to prevent, punish and eradicate homo/transphobia and discrimination based on it. It’s no longer only about education, bullying, marriage, or military – individually – but the wholesale obligation to outlaw discrimination regardless of the specific narrow context or specific type of abuse.

It’s the equality vs. crumbs moment, and we need to pivot to seize it.

There is also no doubt in my mind that the Obama Administration deserves huge credit for this, and for appointing a lesbian to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, which also issued a report covering the psychological harm caused by LGBT discrimination as part of a nationwide bullying assessment, and a very strong similar Resolution among the Organization of American States, also in June 2011.

This is strategic leadership at work. He is boxing our own country in on this front, which is a great place to have the opposition. They will have to decide if they support human rights for all, and the international law and realm, or if they reject that entire system just to hate us. Tough choice, good maneuver.

And it may be that we have a Democrat-controlled House and Senate for the 113th Congress (2013-2014) – so there will be no excuse to delay this justice any longer, provided we push like crazy this coming year to make sure we’re at the top of the list of priorities.

Now we need our own movement to become as clever, and shift our demands from piecemeal bills (which themselves fail to call for basic human rights protections), to the entitlement we have as a persecuted minority to full and immediate protection of our country.

Our moment is at hand, if we rise to the occasion, put individual egos and group identities in check, and find the common intention to manifest our full equality now.

Our time has come.



First ever UN study finds lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals face discrimination in every region of the world Posted: Wednesday, 21 December 2011, New York | Authors: iSeek, OHCHR, UN-GLOBE

High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay (Photo Credit: UN Photo)Last week, the High Commissioner for Human Rights issued the first ever official United Nations report on violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The report, which was requested by the Human Rights Council in a resolution adopted in June 2011, will be considered by the Council in a special three-hour debate in March.

The report focuses on acts of violence, discriminatory laws, and discriminatory practices in every region of the world.

Charles Radcliffe, Chief of the Global Issues Section of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that the report identifies “a pattern of violence and discrimination directed at individuals because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. The kinds of human rights violations involved range from hate-motivated killings and violence, to laws that criminalize people on the basis of their sexuality, through to discrimination affecting people in their everyday lives, including at work, at schools and in healthcare.”

In 76 States, criminal laws are used to punish individuals for engaging in consensual sexual relations with an adult of the same sex. In at least five of those countries, the death penalty may be applied for homosexuality-related offenses. In some cases, the laws concerned explicitly prohibit homosexual conduct; in others, the wording is more vague but the provisions are applied in a discriminatory manner to prosecute gay and lesbian people. “Discriminatory laws legitimize discriminatory attitudes in society at large. If a State treats certain people as second class, second rate, or, worse, as criminals, because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, then it invites people to do the same,” Mr. Radcliffe said.

The study also highlights discrimination within families and communities, including cases of individuals being expelled from family homes, disinherited, forced into marriage or pregnancy. Underlying gender inequalities often make lesbian and transgender women especially vulnerable, with reported cases of honour killings and so-called “corrective” rape. In another first, the report focuses attention on human rights concerns specific to people who are transgender or intersex, including issues relating to the health needs of transgender persons, official recognition of a change of gender, and pediatric surgery performed on intersex children without the informed consent of those concerned.

The report includes a comprehensive list of recommendations. “Those countries that criminalize homosexuality must take immediate action to change their laws in order to comply with the requirements of international human rights law”, said Mr. Radcliffe. States are encouraged to take steps to prevent hate-motivated violence and investigate reported incidents of violence, and to enact new laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Training and public information efforts are also recommended, including sensitization of law enforcement officials, anti-homophobia campaigns in schools, and concerted efforts to counter homophobic attitudes in society at large.

United Nations Policies

The report also focuses on discriminatory practices in the workplace. Here at the UN, the UN-GLOBE staff group has been working closely with the United Nations administration to ensure equality of entitlements for LGBT staff members, and to address mobility issues.

Although two important Secretary-General Bulletins (ST/SGB/2004/13 and ST/SGB/2008/5) have been issued in the last decade, entitlements and survivor benefits are still not applied equally because they depend on the recognition of same-sex partners by staff members’ country of nationality. Mobility is also a major concern because of the consequences of being gay in certain countries.

The group is also working to address discriminatory behaviour in the workplace. “Many of us have experienced disparaging remarks by people who might not know we are gay”, said the president of UN-GLOBE. “We need to feel comfortable having pictures of our partners on our desk, or talking about our families.”

ST/SGB/2008/5 prohibits discrimination, harassment, including sexual harassment, and abuse of authority in the workplace.

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