June 1, 2015 at 10:36 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
UN report notes global progress, setbacks in LGBT rights

United Nations, gay news, Washington Blade

A new U.N. report notes anti-LGBT violence and discrimination persists in spite of global progress in the extension of rights to people based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. (Photo by Steve Cadman; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

A report the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights issued on Monday notes anti-LGBT discrimination and violence persists around the world in spite of continued progress in the expansion of rights to people based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.

The report — which the U.N. Human Rights Council requested after it adopted a resolution against anti-LGBT discrimination and violence last September — notes that “hundreds of people have been killed and thousands more injured in brutal, violent attacks” since 2011.

“Other documented violations include torture, arbitrary detention, denial of rights to assembly and expression and discrimination in health care, education, employment and housing,” reads the 22-page report. “These and related abuses warrant a concerted response from governments, legislatures, regional organizations, national human rights institutions and civil society, as well as from United Nations bodies — the Human Rights Council included.”

The report notes that those convicted of consensual same-sex sexual activity face the death penalty in Iran, Mauritania, Sudan, Yemen and portions of Nigeria and Somalia. It further indicates that homosexuality remains criminalized in 76 countries.

The report cites statistics from the Trans Murder Monitoring project that note 1,612 gender non-conforming people in 62 countries have been reported killed between 2008-2012. It also notes reports from Iraq and Syria that indicate the Islamic State is publicly executing men who allegedly engaged in sodomy.

The report also notes Russia is among the countries with so-called “anti-propaganda laws” that their critics contend further exacerbate anti-LGBT discrimination.

“They also contribute to ongoing persecution of members of the LGBT community, including young persons who identify or are perceived as LGBT,” reads the report.

This report is only the second time the U.N. has released an official document that specifically deals with LGBT issues. The U.N. Human Rights Council in March 2012 received a report on the aforementioned topics after approving a resolution a few months earlier that expressed “grave concern” over anti-LGBT violence and discrimination.

Three countries have decriminalized homosexuality since 2011

The latest report notes a number of countries have extended rights to LGBT people over the last four years.

Mozambique, Palau and Sao Tome and Principe have decriminalized homosexuality in their respective countries since 2011.

Lawmakers in Chile, Cuba, Fiji, Malta and other countries have either enacted laws prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity or strengthened existing statutes and protections. New Zealand, France and Luxembourg are among the more than a dozen nations that have extended marriage rights or civil unions to gays and lesbians since 2011.

Dutch lawmakers in 2013 overwhelmingly approved a bill that allows trans people to legally change their gender on official documents without undergoing what LGBT rights advocates described as “obligatory and often unwanted sterilization and gender modification operations.” The Indian Supreme Court the following year issued a landmark ruling that recognizes trans people as a “third gender.”

“While some progress has been made since the first study in 2011, the overall picture remains one of continuing, pervasive, violent abuse, harassment and discrimination affecting LGBT and intersex persons in all regions,” reads the report. “These constitute serious human rights violations, often perpetrated with impunity, indicating that current arrangements to protect the human rights of LGBT and intersex persons are inadequate.”

The report calls for the decriminalization of consensual same-sex consensual activity, the implementation of anti-LGBT hate crimes laws and the extension of legal protections to same-sex couples and their children. It also makes more than a dozen other recommendations that include an end to forced sterilization of trans people and so-called “conversion” therapy.

“This report lays bare the brutality of violence and the prevalence of discrimination against LGBT and intersex people around the world,” Charles Radcliffe of the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights told the Washington Blade on Monday. “While we’ve seen important steps taken to improve the situation for LGBT people in the past three or four years, much, much more needs to be done — as this report makes clear.”

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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