U.N. Must Step Up Support for LGBT Rights

In Move to Hold U.N. General Assembly Accountable, IGLHRC Releases “Scorecard for Action” on LGBT Rights, Ahead of Ministerial Meeting

Contact: Suzanne Trimel, IGLHRC Communications Director, 212-430-6018 / 914-222-3951 (shared mobile), strimel@iglhrc.org

(New York)—The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), urging the U.N. General Assembly to aggressively confront discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in its 69th session, today released an 8-point “scorecard for action” toward global equality and non-discrimination for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. The scorecard was launched ahead of Thursday’s ministerial level U.N. meeting, where U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman, representing a cross-regional group of U.N. member states, along with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, were expected to push LGBT rights as a priority for action.

“Hardly a week goes by without our receiving reports of violence, intimidation, harassment and widespread discrimination against LGBT people worldwide,” said Jessica Stern, IGLHRC executive director. “And yet, so far, the U.N. has not lived up to its responsibility to protect everyone’s human rights—including ours. It’s time the member states are held accountable!”

IGLHRC’s scorecard for action identifies key moments on the U.N. General Assembly’s year-long agenda when member states, as well as the President of the General Assembly, must act to ensure protection from violence and discrimination. This year, the U.N. agenda includes several sessions that are intimately linked to how LGBT persons experience violence, including sessions on education, health policies, family policies, and children’s rights.

“With this scorecard, we are trying to educate people about what it means to suffer discrimination as an LGBT person,” said Stern. “The exclusion and abuse is not isolated from the rest of our lives -- it is closely related to our experience at school, at work, in health clinics, and in our families. The U.N. must address this fact.”

For years, many states have overtly supported efforts to overcome discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. On Thursday, a cross-regional group of 15 countries, the European Union, as well as the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights, Human Rights Watch and IGLHRC, are hosting a ministerial level meeting to encourage all U.N. member states to sign onto a 2008 declaration in support of non-discriminationWith the declaration recently opened for new signatures, four more countries signed on: the Seychelles, El Salvador, the Republic of Korea and Monaco. The group is also hosting a “photo booth” during this week’s high-level U.N. sessions, where heads of state, ministers, and other dignitaries are encouraged to take a snapshot to indicate support for equality and human rights.

One year ago, this group adopted a declaration committing to work together to combat discrimination and protect the rights of all human beings regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

“The high-level attention to LGBT rights this week is both much needed and very appreciated” Stern said. “Without commitment at the highest level, there will never be lasting change. But we also know that, as a movement, we need to keep holding people’s feet to the fire to see it through—thus the scorecard.”

More than 76 countries still criminalize consensual adult same-sex relationships, though in many more countries, discrimination against LGBT people is widespread, blocking access to jobs, schooling and health care, Abuses against LGBT people range from bullying in school and prison sentences to the death sentence in certain countries.

The UNGA Ministerial event, “Free & Equal: LGBT Rights are Human Rights” takes place at 3:15 p.m. Thursday at Dag Hammarskjold Auditorium at U.N. headquarters. In addition to remarks by Argentine Foreign Secretary Timerman and Secretary of State Kerry, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will provide a video message.