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Special issue publications

Born Free and Equal: Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in International Human Rights Law (1st Edition) (Archive)


01 August 2012


Sexual orientation and gender identity

This publication is kept for reference purposes. Please see the second edition published in 2019.

For the past 18 years, United Nations human rights treaty bodies and special procedures have documented widespread violations of the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and have analysed State compliance with international human rights law. Reported violations include, but are not limited to, killings, rape and physical attacks, torture, arbitrary detention, the denial of rights to assembly, expression and information, and discrimination in employment, health and education and access to goods and services. In each case, the victims involved are targeted either because they are, or are assumed to be, lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. The mere perception of homosexuality or transgender identity is often enough to put people at risk. Born Free and Equal (the title is inspired by the opening words of article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights) sets out the source and scope of some of the core legal obligations that States have to protect the human rights of LGBT people. It is intended to help States better understand the nature of their obligations and the steps required to meet them. It also provides potentially useful information to civil society, human rights defenders and others seeking to hold Governments to account for breaches of international human rights law.