AFFIRMING UNIVERSAL HUMAN RIGHTS: UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY
JOINT STATEMENT ON SEXUAL ORIENTATION & GENDER IDENTITY
- In this 60th Anniversary Year of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it is particularly important to affirm the principle of universality: that all human beings are entitled to equal dignity and respect.
- Numerous UN Special Procedures have, however, identified violations of the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons in all regions of the world, including unlawful killings, torture, rape, violence, disappearances, and discrimination in accessing health care and other economic, social and cultural rights.
- Recognizing the seriousness of these violations and in order to affirm the principles of universality and non-discrimination, States from all regional groups are joining together to deliver a short oral statement at the upcoming session of the General Assembly in December.
- The joint statement is not a formal decision or resolution, and will not be subject to a vote. It creates no new rights, but simply affirms the application of existing human rights standards to those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.
- This statement builds on similar past initiatives, including a joint statement delivered to the former Commission on Human Rights in 2004 on behalf of 32 States, and a joint statement delivered to the Human Rights Council in 2006 on behalf of 54 States. Earlier this year, a declaration on sexual orientation, gender identity and human rights was also adopted unanimously by all 34 States in the Organization of American States.
- Treaty bodies have consistently recognized, in communications, concluding observations and general comments, that international guarantees of equality prohibit discrimination on grounds including sexual orientation.
- As the former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights affirmed:
“The 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights … provides an ideal opportunity to recall the core human rights principles of equality, universality and non-discrimination. Human rights principles, by definition, apply to all of us, simply by virtue of being born human. Just as it would be unthinkable to exclude some from their protection on the basis of race, religion, or social status, so too must we reject any attempt to do so on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. … Excluding lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons from equal protection violates international human rights law, as well as the common standards of humanity that define us all.”
- The UN Special Rapporteur on Health has also emphasized the importance of addressing human rights violations based on sexual orientation as part of HIV education and prevention efforts.
- The statement is being advanced by a core group of States including representatives from all 5 UN regions (Argentina, Brazil, Croatia, France, Gabon, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway and Ukraine). It has already attracted over 50 signatories. In view of the extensive violations identified by the Special Procedures, and the importance of affirming the principles of universality and non-discrimination, we encourage States to join the increasing number of countries expressing support for these important human rights issues.