Report on Gender Theory

June 2021
Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity
To the HRC at its 47th session, June 2021


Gender theory informed approaches recognize gender as inextricably linked with social construct - that the meanings attached to sex (and other) differences are socially created. They challenge the assumption that gender identity necessarily correlates with biological sex and recognize the validity of a wide range of sexual orientations and gender identities. The recognition of gender as determined by social construct is common to many feminisms, as well as LGBT theory, as is the recognition that gender, sex and sexuality interconnect with other axes of power and identification such as race, age, ethnicity, religion, [dis]ability and health status among others. This approach provides for recognition of how race is gendered and gender is raced, as well as the many other factors which affect how one is allocated rights, privileges or deficits and limits to rights through the regulation of gender.

Comprehensive and intersectional gender analysis has influenced the interpretation of rights recognized in international human rights law, and many States have adopted gender as a key concept in laws and policies aimed at protecting women and LGBT persons against violence and discrimination. Nevertheless, within multilateral and regional organisations, among other fora, there are currently narratives that, under different lines of characterization (including the accusation of so-called “gender ideology”), seek to eliminate the gender framework from international human rights law instruments and processes, and national legislative and policy documents. These attempts could impact progress achieved over the last four decades on gender equality and the recognition of sexual and gender-based violence and violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.


This research process included a literature review, and a call for inputs, in response to which 529 submissions were received, including a total of 42 submissions from State entities stemming from all regions, and 484 contributions from non-State stakeholders, including 202 from organizations and 282 from individuals. The Independent Expert is humbled by this highly participative process: in total, he received specific information concerning 88 UN Member States, covering all geographic regions and a significant proportion of the populations, cultures, legal traditions and religions of the world. All receivable and non-confidential submissions will be published on this page at the time of the publication of the report.