Imagine a wish list for the global LGBT community: The recognition of same-sex relationships; support for gender identity recognition; expansion of anti-discrimination legislation and the repeal of discriminatory laws; and protection from violence.
Far fetched? Anything but – it’s a sign of the steady progress for LGBT people that these recommendations are at the heart of a new report released today by the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). In a world where 80 countries still criminalize consensual same-sex relations or discussion of LGBT rights, and punishments include prison sentences, flogging, and even the death penalty, these are powerful recommendations indeed.
The report not only marks the latest in a series of incremental steps for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people at the United Nations, it also illustrates the increasingly important role of developing countries in international LGBT advocacy.
The OHCHR report is the outcome of a 2014 UN Human Rights Council (HRC) resolution that called for a review of “good practices and ways to overcome violence and discrimination” against LGBT people. This is the second report of its kind at the United Nations. The first stemmed from the 2011 HRC resolution documenting “discriminatory laws and practices” affecting LGBT people and noting disturbing patterns of violence and discrimination around the world, including “…killings, rape and physical attacks, torture, arbitrary detention, the denial of rights to assembly, expression and information, and discrimination in employment, health and education.”
The new OHCHR reports highlight not only the expanding recognition of the rights of LGBT people at the UN, but the growing leadership of Latin America and Africa on these issues. While South Africa led the passing of the 2011 HRC resolution, Chile, Uruguay, Brazil, and Colombia led the 2014 resolution. The second resolution passed with a wide majority, receiving support from countries around the world.
As many countries prepare to celebrate LGBT pride in the month of June, the High Commissioner’s report is yet another reminder of the importance of LGBT rights in the human rights movement.