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Urgent action needed to stop violence and discrimination against LGBT people worldwide, says UN expert

LGBT discrimination

18 June 2018

GENEVA (18 June 2018) – States around the world must take urgent action to eradicate violence and discrimination against LGBT people, a UN expert has said in his first official address to the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

“Every day, millions of lesbians, gays, bisexual, trans and other gender non-conforming people are subjected to acts of great cruelty based solely on who they are or who they choose to love or desire,” said Victor Madrigal-Borloz, the UN’s new Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

“Denying this fact is offensive to the dignity of those targeted, as well as the global conscience. Opposition to taking action to protect them defies logic and any justification,” he stressed.

Madrigal-Borloz said deeply entrenched stigma and prejudice reinforced by discriminatory laws and regulations were at the root of violence and discrimination.

“No State or region of the world is spared from this scourge,” he said.

“More than three billion people, almost half of the world’s population, live in countries in which the law or other measures criminalize some citizens on the basis of sexual orientation. So, recognizing the problem and adopting effective measures to address it does make a significant difference,” he added.  

“The Universal Declaration of Human Rights makes clear that freedom, justice and peace in the world rest on the recognition of the inherent dignity and equality of all members of the human family,” emphasized Madrigal-Borloz.

“I urge all members in the community of nations to hear the testimony of people who are targeted, and take action. If you listen, you will hear them calling for the conscience of humankind to be outraged in the face of their pain and suffering,” he said.


Victor Madrigal-Borloz (Costa Rica) was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council as Independent Expert on sexual orientation and gender identity. He is 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. He has 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.

For inquiries and media requests, please contact Catherine de Preux De Baets (+41 22 917 93 27 /[email protected]) or Damianos Serefidis (+41 22 917 96 81 /[email protected]).

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts please contact
Jeremy Laurence, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+41 22 917 9383 / [email protected])

This year is the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN on 10 December 1948. The Universal Declaration – translated into a world record 500 languages – is rooted in the principle that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” It remains relevant to everyone, every day. In honour of the 70th anniversary of this extraordinarily influential document, and to prevent its vital principles from being eroded, we are urging people everywhere to Stand Up for Human Rights: