Tanya L. Domi is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University who teaches about human rights in Eurasia and is a Harriman Institute affiliated faculty member. Prior to teaching at Columbia, Domi worked internationally for more than a decade on issues related to democratic transitional development, including political and media development, human rights, gender issues, sex trafficking, and media freedom. Originally posted on The New Civil Rights Movement:
The first formal United Nations report on the state of LGBT human rights was presented to the UN General Assembly on Thursday by Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human rights, who has been an outspoken supporter of LGBT human rights.
In issuing the report, Pillay called on UN member states to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, and prosecute all serious violations, repeal discriminatory laws, and end legal discrimination for all LGBT persons.
“On the basis of the information presented (in this report), a pattern of human rights violations emerges that demands a response,” Pillay said, according to a report by the AP.
“Governments and inter-governmental bodies have often overlooked violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity,” she said.
The findings of the report indicate that LGBT people face widespread discrimination everywhere in the world and are subjected to extreme violence, including rape, beatings and torture, evidenced by confirmed reports of mutilation and castration that were characterized by a “high degree of cruelty,” including forcible rape of lesbians, a notorious activity by anti-gay men in South Africa.
LGBT persons also face criminal punishment in 76 countries and risk capital punishment in five countries, including Iran, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen. The report lays out the evidence of widespread discrimination and arbitrary arrests and criminal punishment based upon sexual orientation and gender identity:
In all regions, people experience violence and discrimination because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. In many cases, even the perception of homosexuality or transgender identity puts people at risk. Violations include – but are not limited to – killings, rape and physical attacks, torture, arbitrary detention, the denial of rights to assembly, expression and information, and discrimination in employment, health and education. United Nations mechanisms, including human rights treaty bodies and the special procedures of the Human Rights Council, have documented such violations for close to two decades.
The report, titled “Discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity” (below) was directed to be prepared by the Pillay’s office in June by the UN Human Rights Council when the Council adopted its first resolution in support of LGBT rights, after previous anti-gay resolutions in 2010 had been adopted by the UN General Assembly in early readings, that called for the execution of gays.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, led the effort to overturn the earlier version of the resolutions, ultimately including sexual orientation and gender identity as groups that must be protected from extra-judicial punishments, including summary executions.
The Council’s report bookends Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s historical speech affirming the human rights of LGBT persons delivered in Geneva on December 6. Clinton outlined new U.S. foreign policy that includes LGBT human rights as a part of the Obama Administration’s human rights policies. In conjunction, the White House issued a National Security Council memorandum outlining the government’s mandate, inclusive of agencies, that directs reporting from each agency and how they plan to operationalize their responsibilities for enforcement within six months.