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Statements and speeches Multiple Mechanisms

States must tackle racism and stigma against LGBT persons

16 May 2023

GENEVA (16 May 2023)On the occasion of the International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia, a group of UN and regional human rights experts called on States to address racism and stigma against LGBT persons. The experts issued the following joint statement:

“We call on States to uphold the inherent dignity of all persons, without any distinction, by adopting measures to eradicate racial discrimination, exclusion, intolerance, hatred, bigotry, violence, and stigmatisation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and gender diverse (LGBT) persons.

Racialization, ethnicity, age, colour, disability, national and residential and socio-economic status expose LGBT persons to different forms of discrimination that affect their ability to enjoy their human rights and fundamental freedoms without distinction of any kind. To adequately analyse how structural inequalities lead to violence and exposure to risk, it is a must to adopt an intersectional approach. While some people are privileged, most face discrimination and violence, including arbitrary displacement, because of their multiple intersecting identities.

In the few contexts in which systematic data collection exists, it strongly suggests that the intersection of anti-Blackness and LGBT-phobia creates additional barriers to the full inclusion of Black LGBT persons in society. Similar dynamics affect other discriminated or racialized groups, such as Arab, Asian, Latin American, and Middle Eastern persons, persons of African or Pacific descent, as well as Indigenous Peoples, minorities, migrant persons, refugees, and asylum seekers. These factors are exacerbated for people who are sexually and/or gender diverse and for those defending their rights, where the lack of intersectional approaches often precludes culturally relevant engagement, public participation without fear of reprisal, necessary comprehensive medical care, and even respect for autonomy. 

The persistence of gender inequality and a lack of understanding of sexual and gender diversities drive prejudice in culture and discrimination in laws and policies in a range of country contexts. Challenging historic exclusion and more contemporary regressions by breaking stereotypes and ensuring civil society’s access to financial resources, including laws, policies and practices that impede such access is a must for the global human rights agenda. Traditional beliefs and practices must not be invoked to deny equal rights.

Businesses have also the responsibility to address intersectional harms experienced by individuals, including people with non-binary identities, and to take social justice into consideration as part of their human rights responsibilities under the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. It is not enough to commit to equality and diversity initiatives; these must be accompanied by human rights due diligence assessments that bring non-discrimination to practice.

Disaggregated data on lesbian and bisexual women, trans men, and gender diverse individuals, based on their descent, colour or ethnic origin is virtually non-existent in all latitudes of the world, but the scarce existing evidence suggests that they experience disproportionately higher rates of discrimination, violence, and insecurity. Widespread State and non-State violence against trans women based on their colour, for example, is a powerful example of necropolitics in action. Likewise, the disproportionate representation of LGBT youths and older persons of colour and Indigenous persons in homelessness clearly exemplifies racism and age as determinants of economic, social and political social exclusion.

To achieve true equality, States must adopt an intersectional, non-binary approach that addresses the needs of the LGBT population in its full diversity and involves them in the development of policies that affect them. This includes, where data security is guaranteed, collecting disaggregated data that takes into account their declared race, ethnicity and social status, developing a broader and authentic understanding of how racism and LGBT-phobia intersect, addressing racial and ethnic disparities in access to goods, facilities and services for LGBT and gender diverse individuals, and understanding the impact and legacy of colonialism on inequalities within and between countries, nation-building and the exclusion of these populations. Businesses must also incorporate an intersectional perspective to provide equal opportunities and eliminate discrimination in their activities.

For all of these reasons, we also reiterate today our conviction that sexual orientation and gender identity remain indispensable entry points for an adequate analysis of discrimination and violence and the path to its eradication.”


UN Special Procedures mandate holders joining this statement include: Victor Madrigal-Borloz, Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity; Ashwini K.P., Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism; Barbara G. Reynolds (Chair-Rapporteur), Bina D’Costa, Catherine S. Namakula, Dominique Day, and Miriam Ekiudoko,  Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent; Yvonne Mokgoro (Chair), Tracie Keesee, and Juan Méndez, Expert Mechanism to Advance Racial Justice and Equality in Law Enforcement; Dorothy Estrada Tanck (Chair), Ivana Radačić (Vice-Chair), Elizabeth Broderick, Melissa Upreti, and Meskerem Geset Techane, Working Group on discrimination against women and girls; Priya Gopalan (Chair-Rapporteur), Miriam Estrada-Castillo, Working Group on arbitrary detention; Ravindran Daniel (Chair-Rapporteur), Jelena Aparac, Sorcha MacLeod, Chris Kwaja, Carlos Salazar Couto, Working Group on the use of mercenaries; Felipe González Morales, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants; Siobhán Mullally, Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children; Tlaleng Mofokeng, Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health; Gerard Quinn, Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities; Fabián Salvioli, Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence; Margaret Satterthwaite, Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers; Irene Khan, Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expressionAlexandra XanthakiSpecial Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights; Alice Cruz, Special Rapporteur on the elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members; Balakrishnan Rajagopal, Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing; Farida Shaheed, Special Rapporteur on the right to education; Olivier De Schutter, UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights; Ian Fry, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of climate change; Surya Deva, Special Rapporteur on the right to development; Fionnuala Ní AoláinSpecial Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism; Fernand de Varennes, Special Rapporteur on minority issues; Mary Lawlor, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; Clément Nyaletsossi Voule, Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association; Ana Brian Nougrères, Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy; Obiora Okafor, Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity; Claudia Mahler, Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons; Pedro Arrojo-Agudo, Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation; Pichamon Yeophantong (Chairperson), Damilola Olawuyi (Vice-Chairperson), Fernanda Hopenhaym, Elżbieta Karska, and Robert McCorquodale, Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises; Paula Gaviria Betancur, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons; David Boyd, Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment; Tomoya Obokata, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, including its causes and consequences; Morris Tidball-Binz, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; Michael Fakhri, Special Rapporteur on the right to food; Francesca Albanese, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967; José Francisco Calí Tzay, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of Indigenous Peoples; Richard Bennett, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan; Vitit Muntarbhorn, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia; Yao Agbetse, Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Central African Republic; Javaid Rehman, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran; Elizabeth Salmon, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea; Tom Andrews, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar; and Isha Dyfan, Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights also joins this statement.

The 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 additional information and media requests please contact the mandate of the UN Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (IE SOGI) at [email protected].

For media enquiries regarding other UN independent experts, please contact Maya Derouaz ([email protected]) and Dharisha Indraguptha ([email protected])

Follow news related to the UN's independent human rights experts on Twitter: @UN_SPExperts

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