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Report on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the human rights of LGBT persons


Published:
​19 June 2020
Author:
Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity
Presented:
To the GA at its 75th session, October 2020
Link:

Background

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic is an unprecedented global challenge that has exacerbated inequalities prevalent in all regions of the world. The United Nations General Assembly has acknowledged that “the poorest and most vulnerable are the hardest hit by the pandemic” and the UN Secretary General has noted that it is “highlighting deep economic and social inequalities and inadequate health and social protection systems that require urgent attention as part of the public health response”.

In his report, the Independent Expert discusses the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans and gender-diverse (LGBT) persons, communities and/or populations. The Independent Expert analyses the impact of the pandemic on social exclusion and violence and the interaction with institutional drivers of stigma and discrimination. He also analyses measures adopted in the context of the pandemic aimed at persecuting LGBT persons or with indirect or unintended discriminatory effects and identifies good practice.

Read the full report on the impact of COVID-19 on LGBT persons

View easy-to-read summary

The present report is part of an integral process for COVID-19 response and recovery free from violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The “ASPIRE” Guidelines, released in June 2020, provide a specific set of recommendations to that end.  The present report should be read in conjunction with these Guidelines.

Read the ASPIRE Guidelines on COVID-19 
English | French | Spanish

Read a summary of the Guidelines
PDF: English

Read the letter sent to States about the Guidelines   
English | French | Spanish

Watch the launch event

Key findings

In his report, the Independent Expert concludes that COVID-19 has a disproportionate impact on LGBT persons and that, with few exceptions, the response to the pandemic reproduces and exacerbates the patterns of social exclusion and violence already identified by the Independent Expert.

He calls on States and other stakeholders to adopt urgent measures to ensure that pandemic responses are free from violence and discrimination. Measures adopted by States must comply with principles of equality and non-discrimination, participation, empowerment and accountability. Further, they must be effectively necessary to combat the public health crisis posed by the pandemic, and be reasonable and proportionate to their legitimate purpose. The Independent Expert notes that emergency powers granted to address the pandemic must not be abused.

The Independent Expert highlights three fundamental processes for effective State measures:

  • Acknowledging and embracing diversity in sexual orientation and gender identity
  • Adopting decided measures to deconstruct stigma
  • Adopting evidence-based approaches when designing State response.

Methodology

The Independent Expert started a process of dialogue about the impact of COVID-19 on LGBT persons in March, soon after World Health Organization declared it as a pandemic.

He opened a wide -ranging dialogue process through an open letter issued on 27 March 2020, convening three virtual Town Hall meetings in the period from 30 April to 1 May 2020 and participating in over three dozen virtual consultations and meetings bringing together activists, human rights defenders, civil society leaders, government officials and scholars. In total, over 1,000 individuals from more than 100 countries contributed anecdotal evidence and perspectives on the implications of the pandemic on LGBT persons.

In addition, the Independent Expert reviewed over 80 reports, documents and essays published in the period 1 March – 31 May 2020 on the specific impact of COVID-19 on LGBT persons, as well as reports of human rights violations submitted to the mandate under the communication procedure, and the globality of the work carried out by the United Nations Special Procedures.

Call for inputs

Several Special Procedure mandate holders focused their 2020 thematic reports to the United Nations Human Rights Council or the General Assembly on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the enjoyment of human rights. In order to facilitate responding to questions by Special Procedures, a joint questionnaire was developed including a list of common questions and specific thematic questions responding to information required by participating mandates. The Independent Expert received 55 specific inputs in addition to the numerous submissions covering issues of common interest to the twelve mandate holders.
Read the questionnaire:
English | French | Spanish

View inputs and responses covering issues of common interest

Inputs on the impact of COVID-19 on LGBT persons sent specifically to the Independent Expert are listed below.

Some statistics related to specific inputs received

Regions covered by inputs received

Regions covered by inputs received

Inputs received by stakeholders

Inputs received by stakeholders

Inputs received by region and stakeholders

Inputs received by region and stakeholders

Inputs received


States, regional and local governments

UN Agencies and other International Organizations

National Human Rights Institutions

NGOs and Civil Society Organizations

Academics



​Mandate
Contact

Independent Expert on sexual orientation and gender identity
c/o Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
United Nations at Geneva
8-14 avenue de la Paix
CH-1211 Geneva 10
Switzerland

Fax: (+41) 22 917 90 06
E-mail: ie-sogi@ohchr.org or urgent-action@ohchr.org

Consultations
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