Advocacy statements

Populism and anti-LGBTI prejudice

  • Date / 2018
  • Location / Belarus
  • Relevant Institution / UN Human Rights Council
  • UN Item / Item 3: Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights


International Humanist and Ethical Union               

UN Human Rights Council, 38th Session (18th June – 6th July 2018)

General Debate on Item 3

We are witnessing a continuing rise in ultraconservative political movements, led by populists and backed by fundamentalist religious groups. As the Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) notes, this often comes with political platforms being used to “promote bigotry, dehumanize persons and foster stigma and hate toward LGBTI persons.”[1]

Whether it’s Putin in Russia, al-Sisi in Egypt, Lukashenko in Belarus, Magufuli in Tanzania, or Sandu in Moldova, sexual and gender minorities remain a common target of governments fostering hatred and scapegoating so as to gain power and divert attention from their own failures. LGBTI persons are portrayed as posing a danger to public health and “traditional” family structures.[2]

Regrettably, this rhetoric has been supported by some members and observers of this council refusing to recognise multiple forms of families and non-traditional relations[3]

In the majority of cases, these leaders are backed by powerful religious lobbies, including the orthodox and catholic churches in Eastern Europe, fundamentalist Mosques in the middle-East and Asia, and anti-choice evangelicals in Africa.

Too often we see suppression of free speech for those seeking to defend the equality and human rights of LGBTI people, but complete freedom for those inciting discrimination, hate and violence against them.

We call on the Council to ensure sexual orientation and gender identity is included as a protected characteristic in equality, discrimination and hate speech laws. We also urge states to tackle the root causes of anti-LGBTI prejudice, lead by example at the UN with positive speech and inclusive resolutions and call out populist and religious leaders when they are seeking to scapegoat minorities for their own consolidation of power.


[1] A/HRC/38/43, para 38

[2] A/HRC/38/43, para 39

[3] http://webtv.un.org/meetings-events/human-rights-council/regular-sessions/29th-session/watch/hcsg-thematic-reports-and-item3-general-debate-contd-20th-meeting-29th-regular-session-of-human-rights-council/4315034231001

Suggested academic reference

'Populism and anti-LGBTI prejudice', Humanists International

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