The question of protection of rights of the LGBTQ+ community across the globe
LGBT- Stands for ‘Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender.’
Sexual Orientation- is a term that refers to a person sexual, physical and emotional attraction towards other people.
Gender Identity- is a term that reflects a deeply felt and experienced sense of one’s own gender.
Homophobia- is the term used to describe an irrational fear of, hatred or aversion towards lesbian, gay or bisexual people.
Transphobia- the term used to describe an irrational fear, hatred or aversion towards transgender people.
As the term homophobia is widely understood, it is often used in an all-encompassing way to refer to fear, hatred and aversion towards LGBT people in general.
What are the problems that the LGBTQ+ community faces?
- CRIMINALISATION– In a shocking total of 73 countries same-sex sexual contact is illegal. While in a further 14 this ‘crime’ is punishable by death. These countries include:
Sudan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Mauritania, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Qatar, UAE, parts of Nigeria, parts of Somalia, parts of Syria and parts of Iraq.
– Many countries only criminalize sex between men due to historic penal codes from British colonial rule which define sex as penile penetration. However, a growing number are criminalizing sex between women as they believe doing so strengthens laws against men as the countries can assert the legislation is ‘gender neutral’ and therefore not discriminatory.
- RIGHT TO MARRIAGE- Same-sex marriage is not legally recognized by many countries nor is a legal same-sex marriage allowed to take place in many countries. The only countries that do legally recognize and allow same sex marriage are : Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, France, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Uruguay.
– South Africa is the only African country to legally recognize and allow same-sex marriage.
– No Asian country legally recognizes or allows same-sex marriage (with the exception of Israel that legally recognizes same-sex marriages performed overseas.)
– There is rising support for same sex marriage in Europe and in South America.
– The same- sex marriage law in Finland has not yet come into force.
- DISCRIMINTATION- members of the LGBTQ+ community are subjected to intense discrimination all over the world- even in countries that strongly advocate in favor of LGBTQ+ rights. They may find discrimination in the workplace, in education or even at home and socially with many people being made to feel like outcasts of society due to their sexual orientation or gender. May be subjected to intense violence and bullying from a young age. May also face discrimination in law.
- 40 countries retain a ‘gay panic’ clause which enables people to use as a defence for committing crimes such as assault or murder that they were provoked because the person was gay, lesbian or bisexual.
- LACK OF FREEDOM OF SPEECH- Propaganda that promotes support of the LGBTQ+ community is banned in: Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Nigeria, Somalia, Tunisia, Iraq, Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Lithuania and Russia.
- INEQUALITY- Many members of the LGBTQ+ community are subjected to unequal and unfair treatment on account of their gender or sexual orientation. In many countries, members of this community are not entitled to the same rights as the rest of the population. For example they may be denied asylum, employment, housing and health services or they may even loss the custody of their children. This inequality is a severe violation of their human rights.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1945) states in Article 2: “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind.”
Key UN developments on LGBTQ+ rights:
- December 2011- OHCHR released its first report on the human rights of LGBT persons. This report details the worldwide manifestations of discrimination based on sexual orientation, noting that violence against LGBT persons has a history of hate-motivated violence, such as discrimination in work, health care, education, detention and torture. The report emphasizes the shared community responsibility in combating homophobia and transphobia, and to that end, calls on nations to:
Ø Repeal laws that criminalize homosexuality
Ø Abolish the death penalty for offenses involving consensual sexual relations
Ø Enact comprehensive anti-discrimination laws
Ø Standardize the age of consent for homosexual and heterosexual conduct
Ø Investigate all killings or serious violence against sexual orientation or gender identity
Ø Ensure that asylum laws recognize sexual orientation and gender identity as a basis for claiming persecution and enable LGBT persons fleeing persecution to avoid returning to countries or territories where their freedom is threatened.
The publication of this lead to widespread support in favor of the issue with 85 countries signing on to a statement calling for the decriminalization of homosexuality in March 2011.
- June 2011- First UN resolution (initiated by South Africa) calling for support of gay rights.
- September 2014- Second UN resolution on LGBTQ+ rights (Though was the first time the UNHRC adopted a resolution on sexual orientation and gender identity with the majority of its members )
- 2016- The UNHRC passed a resolution to appoint an “independent expert” to find the causes of violence and discrimination against people due to their gender identity and sexual orientation, and discuss with governments about how to protect those people.
How can the rights of the LGBTQ+ community be protected?
- Decriminalization of homosexuality– the repeal or amendment of all legislation that could it discriminatory or could possibly lead to the discrimination, prosecution and punishment of people solely for their sexual orientation or gender identity.
- Encouragement of Marriage Equality- ensuring that everyone is able to marry whatever their sexual orientation and making sure that states recognize all families of choice.
- Education- By raising awareness of the issues that LGBTQ+ community face through education programmes in school this will significantly help to combat discrimination in the long term.
- Advocating support for the LGBTQ+ community- Taking away all legislation that bans the promotion of LGBTQ+ rights and encouraging member states to show their support for this issue through different media platforms.
- Incentives- encourage the cooperation of member states through the use of incentives e.g a financial incentive may be put in place to encourage countries to repeal all discriminatory legislation.