In recent years, the business and human rights agenda has seen a real strengthening in support for greater equality and respect of the rights of lesbian, gay, bi, trans, and other gender diverse, and intersex (LGBTI) people. Alongside civil society actors and LGBTI movements, businesses and States have undertaken a number of actions and developed strategies and policies to tackle discrimination against LGBTI people. This includes taking action to address discriminatory laws, policies, attitudes and practices in the communities in which businesses operate, promoting inclusive working environments, as well as looking at business practices up and down the supply chain. At the same time, much more remains to be done to prevent and address human rights abuses from being perpetrated against LGBTI people and to ensure accountability when harm occurs in the context of business activities.
The UNGPs make a key contribution to the implementation of human rights safeguards in the context of business activities. In order to effectively meet their respective human rights duties under the UNGPs, States need to adopt measures to effectively prevent and address violence and discrimination against LGBTI people, in line with their legal obligations under international human rights law. In line with their own responsibility to respect human rights, business enterprises are required to identify, prevent, mitigate and address any adverse impacts on people they may be involved with through their own activities, or as a result of their business relationships, including on people with different sexual orientations, gender identities or expressions, or sex characteristics. This means considering how they face negative impacts differently and disproportionately and addressing additional barriers in seeking access to justice and to an effective remedy because of intersecting and multiple forms of discrimination they experience.
The diversity of contexts and of individuals making up the LGBTI spectrum confronts businesses with a wide range of potential human rights impacts requiring a nuanced and differentiated approach. This is particularly challenging in situations where discrimination based on different sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or sex characteristics intersects with other forms of discrimination, such as age, race, ethnicity, disability, or socio-economic status.
The UNGPs acknowledge the importance for States and businesses to adopt a gender perspective, and the Working Group on Business and Human Rights (Working Group) developed guidance on gender in 2019 (A/HRC/41/43) to incorporate a gender lens to the implementation of the UNGPs, with a specific focus on women and girls. The Working Group proposed gender guidance specific to each of the 31 UNGPs. The guidance should be read together with other relevant standards, such as the standards of conduct for business, published by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, aimed at tackling discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons. Yet, many countries lack adequate institutional and regulatory frameworks that comprehensively and systematically incorporate the situation of LGBTI people, including in national action plans on business and human rights, mandatory human rights due diligence regulations, or in disclosure or transparency requirements for companies and investors. In many parts of the world, the current corporate practice of human rights due diligence fails to identify, prevent, mitigate and account for adverse human rights impacts on LGBTI people in a systematic and appropriate manner, if at all.
The Working Group seeks to provide further gender-related guidance to both States and businesses to adopt a LGBTI lens in implementing the UNGPs, with practical recommendations for what it means to protect, respect and remedy the rights of LGBTI persons in the context of business operations. It aims to contribute to a step forward in helping States and businesses translate their respective human rights obligations and responsibilities into practical action on the ground, and to seize an important opportunity to enlarge the role of business in tackling discriminatory practices in countries around the world.
How inputs will be used
In order to obtain a broad representation of views to inform the thematic report, the Working Group is seeking written contributions from all relevant actors through responses to a questionnaire.