NEW YORK (24 October 2019) – Negative public discourse against the LGBT community is present all around the world, heightening people’s exclusion and marginalisation, a UN human rights expert has told the UN General Assembly.
“Political campaigns, parliamentary debates and public demonstrations reveal social prejudice and misconceptions about the nature and moral character of LGBT people,” said Victor Madrigal-Borloz, the UN’s Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, presenting a report.
“This vicious cycle of hatred against LGBT people is being fuelled every day. It impacts on their social inclusion and hinders their access to healthcare, education, housing, employment, political participation, personal security and freedom from violence.”
Madrigal-Borloz warned that in some cases LGBT issues were being deliberately used by political and religious leaders, as well as ultra-nationalist and ultra-conservative groups, to advance their own causes.
“This negative public discourse is being used to portray LGBT people as a threat to national cohesion, culture and tradition, in particular during periods of political and socio-economic instability,” he said.
The expert noted that “immense progress” had been made in the past few decades on deconstructing discriminatory systems, myths and stereotypes, and fostering inclusion. But he stressed that much remained to be done to ensure the full inclusion of all LGBT people in all States.
“Social inclusion requires dismantling all legislation that criminalises sexual orientation and gender identity or expression, and that negates a person’s identity,” he said.
“It also requires urgent measures to dismantle the systems of repression that enforce the idea that diversity in sexual orientation and gender identity is somehow harmful to society, that LGBT people are somehow disordered, or that their identities are criminal.
“LGBT people make a significant contribution to the social fabric. They have the right to be themselves and to find happiness. The satisfaction of their human rights is the key to unleashing the full potential of their contributions to society.”
Mr. Victor Madrigal-Borloz (Costa Rica) assumed the role of UN Independent Expert on Protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity for a three year period starting on 1 January 2018. Victor Madrigal-Borloz is a senior visiting researcher at the Harvard Law School’s Human Rights Program. Until 30 June 2019, he served as the Secretary-General of the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT), a global network of over 150 rehabilitation centres with the vision of full enjoyment of the right to rehabilitation for all victims of torture and ill treatment. A member of the UN Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture from 2013 to 2016, Mr Madrigal-Borloz was Rapporteur on Reprisals and oversaw a draft policy on the torture and ill-treatment of LGBTI persons. Prior to this he led technical work on numerous cases, reports and testimonies as Head of Litigation and Head of the Registry at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and has also worked at the Danish Institute for Human Rights (Copenhagen, Denmark) and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (San José, Costa Rica).
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.
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