Chile: UN expert welcomes public apology to schoolteacher dismissed for being a lesbian in 2007
22 September 2023
GENEVA (22 September 2023) – A UN expert today welcomed the Chilean President’s public apology to a school teacher who was discriminated against in 2007 on grounds of her sexual orientation.
“This landmark declaration by Chile sends a positive message to gay, lesbian and bisexual, trans and other gender-diverse people in the country, assuring them that discriminatory acts will not be tolerated by the State,” said Victor Madrigal-Borloz, the UN Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Earlier this month, the President of Chile, Gabriel Boric, publicly apologised for the State’s handling of the case of Sandra Pávez Pávez, a public school teacher who was fired in 2007 for being in a relationship with another woman.
Sandra Pávez Pávez had been a religious studies teacher for 22 years when the public school where she worked fired her after it became known that she was in a same-sex relationship. Pávez Pávez took her case to court, but her appeal was rejected – ultimately by the Supreme Court of Chile. In February 2022, after several years of litigation in the Inter-American system, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled in her favour and ordered the State to publicly recognise its responsibility.
“While the public apology was ordered by the court, I particularly appreciated that President Boric said he issued it from personal conviction – and that of the Government – that promoting and guaranteeing human rights is key to building a more tolerant, inclusive and kind future where everyone belongs,” Madrigal-Borloz said.
“Acknowledging the debt that States still owe to intersex, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and gender-diverse persons is an important first step on the road to freedom and equality,” he said.
The expert noted that in the last few decades, several countries have adopted anti-discrimination laws that explicitly mention sexual orientation and gender identity, and several others have repealed laws that criminalised sexual and gender diversity.
“I hope this trend will continue to gain momentum and reiterate my call for a world free of criminalisation based on sexual orientation or gender identity by 2030,” Madrigal-Borloz said.
The expert is part of what are 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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