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LGBT rights Under Spotlight At UN

LGBT rights Under Spotlight At UN

1 October 2015

Over at the UN LGBT rights have been raised as an issue of importance during the 30th session of the UN Human Rights Council which is currently taking place in Geneva.

A Human Rights Law Centre, International Service for Human Rights and ILGA World joint statement highlighted the lack of global progress in relation to the rights of LGBT people saying; "The Vienna Declaration condemned gross and systematic violations of human rights. It is disturbing that, 22 years on, people continue to suffer discrimination, violence and persecution as a result of their sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status, or because of their work to speak out for equal rights."

Referring to a statement on Item 8 in which H.E. Mr Raimonds Jansons, representative of Latvia spoke on behalf of the European Union in June this year and stated that “human rights violations targeted toward persons because of their sexual orientation or gender identity constitute a global and entrenched pattern of very serious concern to the European Union.”

In a call to action he went on to say; “We call on these countries to repeal these laws which amount to serious human rights violations and cause immense suffering and renew our firm commitment to ensure the full realization of all human rights for LGBTI persons all around the world.”

The Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, which was adopted by the World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna on 25 June 1993, confirmed the universality of human rights.

Transgender rights, specific to healthcare, has been noted as an issue of importance during a UN panel discussion on the impact of the world drug problem on the enjoyment of human rights.

In a ILGA World & International Service for Human Rights statement, prepared in consultation with Social, Health and Empowerment - SHE, Zhan Chiam spoke of the need for states to recognise diverse gender identities when considering health programs.

"Trans women are at high risk of HIV infection and transmission," he said, "The reasons are multiple: stigmatisation in social, medical and other structural settings, over-representation in sex work as a means for survival, elevated use of legal and illegal drugs to cope with the stressors of discrimination, and the lack of targeted HIV prevention interventions de-grouping trans women from MSM. [...] When governments do not recognise gender identities, programs - including health programs - for trans people simply do not exist. We therefore call on governments to include trans communities when considering how to tackle the impact of the world drug problem on the enjoyment of human rights."

The panel provides informed, fact-based and expert knowledge and recommendations to the discussions that will take place at the special session of General Assembly on the world drug problem to be held in 2016.

A side event during the Council Meeting also addressed the human rights of transgender people and included a training session on effective trans advocacy at the UN. The event was organised by TGEU - Transgender Europe and ARC International.

Further to this, LGBT rights were highlighted during the Universal periodic review, which provides the opportunity for each State to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries, fulfilling their human rights obligations.

Notably, during the considerations on the United States a statement provided by ILGA World and endorsed by the Human Rights Campaign addressed concerns regarding the level of discrimination across the country despite new marriage laws.

"The lack of federal LGBT civil rights protections leaves millions subject to potential discrimination, crimes against the LGBT population remain at disturbingly high levels. The levels of violence and harassment transgender people face constitute a national crisis. The United States should devote more resources to combating violence and hate crimes."

Other areas of concern still to be addressed in nation states included access to better health services, protection against crime, the decriminalisation of homosexuality and the amendment of discriminatory laws.

The 30th regular session of the UN Human Rights Council is being held from 14 September to 2 October in Geneva.

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