The joint call, made in an oral statement delivered by the NGO, International Lesbian Gay Bisexual Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA), during the 50th Session of the UN Human Rights Council, was made during an interactive dialogue with the current Independent Expert on SOGI, Victor Madrigal-Borloz. The mandate of the Independent Expert, originally established in 2016, is up for renewal at this session of the Council.
The NGO statement highlighted the fact that currently in every region of the world, there exists widespread, grave and systematic violence and discrimination based on one’s real or perceived sexual orientation and/or gender identity. It noted that more than 10 countries criminalise diverse gender expressions and identities, and over 68 countries criminalize consensual same-sex conducts and relations – with the death penalty as a possible punishment in 11 jurisdictions.
The statement said:
“A decision by Council Members to renew this mandate would send a clear message that violence and discrimination against people of diverse sexual orientations and/or gender identities cannot be tolerated. It would reaffirm that specific, sustained and systematic attention continues to be crucial to address these human rights violations and ensure that LGBT people are in fact free and equal in dignity and rights.
We, the 1117 NGOs from 134 States and territories around the world, urge this Council to ensure we continue building a world where everyone can live free from violence and discrimination. To allow this important and unfinished work to continue, we urge the Council to renew the mandate of the Independent Expert on violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.”
The UN Independent Expert on SOGI is tasked with advising on ways to better protect persons who suffer from violence and discrimination on the basis of their SOGI, and assessing states’ implementation of existing international human rights standards. Since its creation in 2016, holders of the mandate (Victor Madrigal-Borloz and his predecessor, Mr. Vitit Muntarbhorn ) have raised awareness about the impact of criminalizing same-sex relations and lack of affirming legal gender recognition procedures, underscored the damage caused by so-called ‘conversion therapies’, looked at the importance of data-collection specific to the experiences of LGBTI+ and gender-diverse people, and highlighted examples of good practice. The mandate was renewed in 2019, a move that was supported by 1312 NGOs, including Humanists International.