[JURIST] Twelve UN agencies published a joint statement [text, PDF] on Tuesday urging states to end violence and discrimination toward lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) individuals. Abuses toward the LGBTI population are human rights abuses impacting society as a whole, the UN agencies said. The agencies are encouraging nations around the world to help prevent violence by urging investigating and prosecuting crimes toward LGBTI individuals and making homophobia and transphobia aggravating factors in punishing these crimes. They are also advocating the repeal of laws that criminalize same-sex marriage or punish people based on sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. To prevent discrimination, the statement also suggested legally recognizing the gender identity of transgender people and opening up dialogue against prejudice. The UN agencies further stated they are offering support for any nations who wish to address these challenges:
Our organizations stand ready to support and assist Member States and other stakeholders as they work to address the challenges outlined in this statement including through constitutional, legislative and policy changes, strengthening of national institutions, and education, training and other initiatives to respect, protect, promote and fulfil the human rights of all LGBTI people.
Among the agencies joined in the statement are UNICEF, UN Women, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the World Health Organization (WHO) [official websites].
The UN has become increasingly focused on the rights of LGBTI individuals. In June the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official website] reported that members of the LGBT community continue to face discrimination [JURIST report] and human rights abuses. The commission found that while LGBT rights have increased since the UN’s first study found widespread discrimination and violence towards these individuals, the current state of LGBT rights still involves pervasive and violent abuse, harassment and discrimination. Last November the OHCHR criticized a Singapore Supreme Court decision [JURIST reports] upholding a law criminalizing consensual same-sex relations between adult men. Last September the UN released a video calling for an end to LGBT discrimination [JURIST report] in all countries.