United Nations: Submission to the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights on Nondiscrimination

ARC International, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), and the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Association (ILGA) made a submission to the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, in relation to their Draft General Comment No. 20 on nondiscrimination, interpreting Art. 2(2) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights. The submissions includes the following recommendations:

  1. We welcome and strongly support the explicit inclusion of sexual orientation among the prohibited grounds for discrimination in the draft General Comment No. 20. As the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has recognized, discrimination in accessing economic, social and cultural rights on the ground of sexual orientation is all too common and often goes unaddressed by states parties to the Covenant. The explicit inclusion of sexual orientation as a ground is necessary to codify the Committee’s existing jurisprudence, clarify the obligations of state parties, and ensure that the rights protected by the Covenant are available to all persons without discrimination.
  2. We further urge that gender identity be recognized as among the grounds for discrimination covered by Art.2 (2) of the Covenant. Persons who are transgender, transsexual or intersex face extreme human rights violations, and are entitled to enjoy their economic, social, and cultural rights without discrimination based on gender identity.
  3. We suggest that the CESCR, in its General Comment, take note of the Yogyakarta Principles on the Application of International Human Rights Law in relation to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (the “Yogyakarta Principles,” www.yogyakartaprinciples.org), and commend them to the attention of states, to assist them in meeting their treaty obligations.
  4. Finally, we support the need for a clear recognition that grounds of discrimination are often multiple and intersecting. We welcome this recognition in the current draft, and would propose strengthening the language to include “multiple and intersectional discrimination.” In our view, this language better recognizes that the impact of discrimination on more than one ground is not just “cumulative,” but often intersects to create new and aggravated forms of discrimination that are greater than the sum of their parts.