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Queering the Courtroom: Resources for Litigation for the Human Rights of LGBTIQ People


Outright Team

Publish Date

January 27, 2021

Around the world, LGBTIQ individuals continue to face a broad spectrum of violations of their human rights. Even in countries which have legal frameworks safeguarding against some discrimination, banning hate crime and hate speech based on sexual orientation or gender identity, implementation and application to cases relating to LGBTIQ individuals may be lacking, resulting in an inability to access these rights. As such, in addition to awareness-raising activities, trainings, advocacy and other strategies for change employed by LGBTIQ activists around the world, litigation is becoming an increasingly relevant and useful tool in achieving LGBTIQ equality.

In bringing strategic cases to court, claimants apply and challenge laws of their jurisdiction. However, human rights law stems from international law established at multilateral human rights bodies such as the United Nations, the Organization of American States, or the Council of Europe. As such, when advancing the human rights of LGBTIQ people at national courts, it can be powerful and important to draw upon international case law on similar topics and to refer to the policies and reports of international organizations, international legal texts (such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights), and internationally adopted principles (such as the Yogyakarta Principles). Drawing upon these resources can be a particularly useful tool where there is a lack of explicit protection of the human rights of LGBTIQ people in the jurisdiction’s legal framework or within the judicial history of a particular jurisdiction, but where specific international commitments to international law and policies exists. 

This report is intended to be a useful starting point for activists around the world who are seeking to bring strategic litigation in their home jurisdiction. The report identifies case law from different jurisdictions that has dealt with the same or similar issues. It also aims to set out how one can apply the Resources in putting forward legal arguments in favor of the protection of LGBTIQ people. 

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