UN Development Commission: Don’t Trade Away LGBT Rights

High-Level Development Debate on Friday Chance to Highlight LGBT Rights Violations

(April 3, 2014 – New York) Heads of state and top government officials from all over the world meeting Friday at the United Nations have a responsibility to acknowledge that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity is a barrier to development, said the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) today.

“It’s not rocket science: when you are criminalized, discriminated against, or bullied, chances are you have a harder time at school, at work, or when you are trying to access healthcare,” said Jessica Stern, Executive Director of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC). “That’s a development issue. That’s what we are talking about.”

The high-level meeting at the United Nations in New York tomorrow is meant to kick-off a weeklong discussion on development objectives at the Commission on Population and Development (CPD). The CPD is a 47-seat UN body that meets annually to discuss issues pertaining to health, population growth, as well as economic and human development.

This year, the CPD discussions are happening in the context of ongoing United Nations negotiations for a sustainable development framework, known as the Post-2015 process. The main objective for the Post-2015 process is for UN Member States to agree upon development goals, along with explicit targets and indicators to monitor compliance. IGLHRC recently joined dozens of other organizations in demanding attention to the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals (LGBT) and communities in the Post-2015 process.

“Sustainable development simply cannot happen without addressing the systemic discrimination and violence perpetrated worldwide against LGBT communities,” said Stern. “We demand explicit attention to this reality in any new development framework.”

The CPD, which will meet all of next week, comes only two weeks after the closing of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, where this year’s debate also focused on development. At that commission, reference to non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity was left out of the final document at the last minute, as a trade-off to maintain a status quo agreement on the appropriate level of international oversight into national affairs.

“It is unacceptable that our rights are constantly used as a political bargaining chip,” said Stern. “We know governments can do better, and we demand they step up during the Commission on Population and Development, starting with tomorrow’s high-level debate.”

Background Information

At the 58th Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), the LBT Caucus—a group of LBT activists from around the world—wrote a statement demanding the inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) in the CSW process. The LBT statement received overwhelming support and was signed by over 70 organizations and more than 20 individuals. Because LGBT people and issues related to SOGI are often invisibilized in discussions of sustainable development, the LBT Caucus has decided to use an updated version of the statement as our manifesto for SOGI inclusion in the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

This manifesto, entitled Demanding a Post-2015 Development Agenda Inclusive of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, will be open to signatures indefinitely. To add your endorsement to the manifesto, fill out the signature form.