Sexual orientation and gender identity: policymakers are taking decisions in the dark, says UN expert

Information about the lived realities of LGBT people around the world is, at best, incomplete and fragmented, but in most countries it is simply non-existent, said the UN Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Geneva, June 12, 2019.- In a report due to be presented to the Human Rights Council on 24 June, Victor Madrigal-Borloz urged States to collect data in an effort to understand the root causes to and eliminate violence and discrimination against LGBT people.

“States must adequately address this scourge through public policy, access to justice, law reform or administrative actions,” said Madrigal-Borloz. “In most contexts policymakers are taking decisions in the dark, left only with personal preconceptions and prejudices.

“My findings show that barriers created by criminalization, pathologization, demonization and stigmatization hinder accurate estimates regarding the world population affected by violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Maintaining such a level of ignorance without seeking appropriate evidence is tantamount to criminal negligence.”

The expert said that data collection efforts are already underway in many parts of the world and have supported assessments of the situation of LGBT persons in various areas of life, including with regard to their safety, well-being, health, education and employment. “However, many other areas still lack data and remain unexplored, for example, the concerns of ageing LGBT people and intersections with disability, racism and xenophobia.

“Further, in environments in which the State criminalizes certain forms of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression fully effective data collection is impossible: I have received multiple accounts of data being used for surveillance, harassment, entrapment, arrest and persecution by government officials in such contexts.

“I call on States to design and implement comprehensive data collection procedures to assess the type, prevalence, trends and patters of violence and discrimination against LGBT persons. When doing so, States should always respect the overriding ‘do no harm’ principle and follow a human rights-based approach to prevent the misuse of collected data,” said the expert.



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