The United Nations Human Rights Office has released Born Free and Equal, a new publication outlining international human rights laws for LGBT people. The 60-page booklet focuses on five core obligations requiring national attention: protecting people from homophobic violence, preventing torture, decriminalizing homosexuality, prohibiting discrimination, and safeguarding LGBT people’s freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly.
Think Progress outlines the major policies:
- Protect people from homophobic and transphobic violence.
- Include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected characteristics in hate crime laws.
- Establish effective systems to record and report hate-motivated acts of violence.
- Ensure effective investigation and prosecution of perpetrators and redress for victims of such violence.
- Asylum laws and policies should recognize that persecution on account of one’s sexual orientation or gender identity may be a valid basis for an asylum claim.
- Prevent the torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of LGBT persons in detention by prohibiting and punishing such acts and ensuring that victims are provided with redress.
- Investigate all acts of mistreatment by State agents and bring those responsible to justice.
- Provide appropriate training to law enforcement officers and ensure effective monitoring of places of detention.
- Repeal laws criminalizing homosexuality, including all laws that prohibit private sexual conduct between consenting adults of the same sex.
- Ensure that individuals are not arrested or detained on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and are not subjected to baseless and degrading physical examinations intended to determine their sexual orientation.
- Prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
- Enact comprehensive laws that include sexual orientation and gender identity as prohibited grounds of discrimination. In particular, ensure non-discriminatory access to basic services, including in the context of employment and health care.
- Provide education and training to prevent discrimination and stigmatization of LGBT and intersex people.
- Safeguard freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly for LGBT and intersex people. Any limitations on these rights must be compatible with international law and must not be discriminatory.
- Protect individuals who exercise their rights to freedom of expression, association and freedom of assembly from acts of violence and intimidation by private parties.
While these guidelines are necessary steps toward inclusiveness of LGBT people, blogger Nancy Polikoff of Beyond (Straight and Gay) Marriage, notes that there are no provisions for same-sex parents:
The UN report does have a chapter about discrimination (and says it is bad), but nothing in that chapter mentions discrimination in adoption or access to assited reproduction or child custody. The report lists some areas of concern when it comes to discrimination, naming employment, health, and education. There is mention that States need not allow same-sex marriage under international human rights law but that same-sex couples should prevail on anti-discrimination grounds when it comes to such matters as pensions, inheritance, and other partner circumstances. This makes it especially odd that the report does not mention LGBT parenting when international human rights law definitely does contain a nondiscrimination principle in that area.
You can read and download Born Free and Equal: Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity booklet here.