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UN report details global violence against LGBT individuals

The UN Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official website] Thursday released the first ever UN report [text, PDF] on the global human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. The report details LGBT people around the world being killed or enduring hate-motivated violence [UN News Centre report], torture, detention, criminalization and discrimination in jobs, health care and education because of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. Prepared in response to a request from the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official website] earlier this year, the report draws from information included in past UN reporting, official statistics on hate crimes where there are available, and reporting by regional organizations and some non-governmental organizations. The report finds that a more extensive study and regular reporting are required for a more comprehensive analysis, but concludes that:

on the basis of the information presented herein, a pattern of human rights violations emerges that demands a response. Governments and inter-governmental bodies have often overlooked violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The mandate of the Human Rights Council requires it to address this gap: the Council should promote "universal respect for the protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, without distinction of any kind and in a fair and equal manner."
According to the report, homophobic and transphobic violence has been recorded in every region of the world, LGBT people are often targets of organized abuse and violence against LGBT persons tends to be especially vicious compared to other bias-motivated crimes. Furthermore, violent incidents or acts of discrimination frequently go unreported because victims do not trust police, are afraid of reprisals or are unwilling to identify themselves as LGBT.

The investigation and report were requested by the UNHRC "Human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity" resolution [JURIST report], passed in June. The resolution is the first to call for an end to sexuality discrimination worldwide and to recognize it as a "priority" for the UN. The UN has faced difficulty passing resolutions on gay rights issues, due to no international consensus on the morality of homosexuality. Last year, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon [official website] called for countries around the world to abolish laws discriminating against gay and lesbian individuals [JURIST report]. Two years ago, the UN passed a gay rights declaration [text, PDF], which the US signed and sponsored [JURIST report]. The declaration, a nonbinding measure that does not have the full force of a resolution, called on states to end criminalization and persecution of homosexuals. This declaration was recalled by the new resolution. Although 85 countries signed the declaration [US Ambassador statement], 57 countries, primarily in Africa and the Middle East, signed an opposing statement. The year before, the UN General Assembly [official website] was divided over the issue of decriminalizing homosexuality [JURIST report] as 66 nations signed a statement calling for decriminalization, and nearly 60 nations signed an opposing statement. As of the 2011 International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) [advocacy website] State-Sponsored Homophobia report [text, PDF], 76 countries still criminalize same-sex relationships, and five enforce the death penalty against homosexuals.

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