BUENOS AIRES / GENEVA (10 March 2017) – Argentina is being commended by a UN rights expert for its “progressive laws and policies” aimed at stopping attacks on people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, but the Government is being urged to do more to combat institutional violence.
Speaking at the end of his first country visit, the Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, Vitit Muntarbhorn, said: “There is a national policy on sexual diversity and various State agencies have special units and/or personnel to deal with the issue, and this is very welcome.”
He also praised laws which helped to protect people from violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, welcomed a law on gender identity entitling people to have their self-perceived gender identity recognized without needing gender reassignment surgery or judicial authorization, a law recognizing same sex marriage and another on comprehensive sex education which aims to foster understanding of sexual diversity from an early age.
However, Mr. Muntarbhorn found that “institutional violence is pervasive in Argentina, historically deep rooted in society and lies at the heart of the problem of violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. A major dilemma is impunity for perpetrators compounded by difficulties facing victims and survivors who try to access the justice system.”
The Independent Expert noted that various steps were being taken to try to address the issues and recommended that they be expanded and made more effective.
“Killings, assaults, and harassment take a major toll among transgender women in particular. They are part of a community which is particularly vulnerable and invisible, especially as their background is steeped in socio-economic deprivation and poverty.”
Mr Muntarbhorn called on Argentina to reform laws and policies which might lead to violence and discrimination, and to prevent laws on public decency and anti-drugs measures from being used to discriminate against people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.
The Independent Expert also called for improvements in access to education, health, employment, and housing for transgender women.
He will present his findings and recommendations in his report to a forthcoming session of the Human Rights Council.
Check the Independent Expert’s end-of-mission statement:
Mr. Vitit Muntarbhorn (Thailand), Professor Emeritus at the Faculty of Law, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand, is the first UN Independent Expert on the protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI). He took up the mandate on 1 November 2016.
The Independent Experts are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.
UN Human Rights country page: Argentina
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