LGBT people across the globe suffer violence and violations to their human rights every day. We’re here to change that.
While there has been some progress towards the recognition and protection of the rights of LGBT people, there is still a long road to travel. In 37 of the 53 Commonwealth states, same-sex activity is criminalised; 8 countries in the world still permit the death penalty for same-sex intimacy; and in more than half the world, LGBT people are not protected from discrimination under labour laws.
The EJA are supporting Commonwealth Governments, policy and law makers and civil society change makers to reform laws that discriminate against LGBT people, many of which are a colonial legacy, and to develop more progressive laws and policies to eradicate violence and discrimination against LGBT people.
In 2012, the United Nations published Born Fee and Equal: Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in International Human Rights Law, establishing international standards for the legal protection of LGBT persons and recognising sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) as fundamental protected characteristics. This marked a critical step in the protection and recognition of the rights of LGBT people internationally.
In 2016, a report of the Special Rapporteur on Torture recommended that states prevent and combat violence against LGBT persons and highlighted the impact of “entrenched discrimination, patriarchal, heteronormative and discriminatory power structures and socialised gender stereotypes”. The same year, the UN established the role of the UN Independent Expert on the protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Regionally, there has also been progress towards securing the rights of LGBT people.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights specifically recognises SOGI as a ground upon which discrimination is prohibited in the Convention Against All Forms of Discrimination and Intolerance 2013 and the Convention on Protecting the Human Rights of Older Persons 2015. The Commission released a comprehensive report about violence against LGBTI persons in 2018 which considered the impact of laws that criminalise LGBT persons and made a number of recommendations on measures to combat violence against LGBTI persons. This marks an important step towards challenging discrimination and violence against LGBT people and the better protection of their human rights.
Within the Council of Europe, there have been important steps to recognise the human rights of LGBT people. Recommendation 2010(5) outlines measures to combat discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity and highlights that legislative frameworks must be reviewed and revised to ensure proper protections. In 2011, the Council of Europe issued a report outlining standards for governments, international institutions and NGOs on the protection and promotion of the human rights of LGBT persons.
In Africa, Resolution 275 of the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights in 2014 addressed violence and other human rights violations based on real or imputed SOGI and urged states to end all acts of violence on the basis of real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity, whether committed by the state or by non-state actors.
LGBT Rights throughout the Commonwealth
The Core Principles of the Commonwealth include “mutual respect, inclusiveness, transparency, accountability, legitimacy, and responsiveness.” There are growing LGBT networks and advocacy initiatives across the Commonwealth calling for the enactment of these principles and equality for all LGBT citizens.
The Commonwealth Equality Network (TCEN), established in 2013, is a network of LGBTI organisations and activists across the Commonwealth that works to challenge discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The Commonwealth Youth and Gender Equality Network, a youth-led network of young gender activists and policy experts, also seek to improve gender equality across the Commonwealth and support the meaningful inclusion of youth voices on gender issues in local, national, regional, Commonwealth and international agendas.
The EJA is working with these groups and many others like them, as well as advocating to Governments across the Commonwealth, to challenge discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and push for legal reforms to end violence against and persecution of LGBT individuals.