Delivered by Linda Baumann
7 March 2012
Thank you Madame President, Madame High Commissioner, Mr. Moderator, Distinguished panelists,
I am honoured to address this panel on behalf of ILGA, which represents 917 lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex member organisations. This statement has also been endorsed by 284 NGOs from 90 countries, from diverse cultures and religions, and by mainstream allies and supporters from around the world.
We are here, not to ask for our rights, since these are already our birthright as human beings, but to urge States to fulfil their responsibilities to end human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
We welcome this panel discussion, and commend South Africa for its leadership in bringing this important human rights issue to the Council’s attention.
We warmly congratulate the High Commissioner for her report, which marks both a point of arrival and a point of departure, as it poignantly addresses human rights violations that have been highlighted by UN Special Rapporteurs and treaty bodies for close to two decades.
Around the world, 76 countries still criminalise us because of how we live or who we love. In extreme cases, we face the death penalty. Very often these laws are the relics of colonial-era legislation, rather than the expression of a pre-existing homophobic or transphobic culture.
Lesbians are subject to so-called “curative” rape, intersex people are subject to medical abuses, transgender persons demeaned and beaten, their rights and identities unrecognised. We are denied health care or needed treatment; we routinely face discrimination in work, housing and education. In many countries, our work as human rights defenders is opposed, obstructed or banned. Our rights to peacefully gather are often denied, while attempts are made to silence our voices.
For too long, this Council has allowed these violations to go unaddressed. There is no dignity, nor honour in torture, persecution and discrimination.
It is time for the Council to fulfil its responsibility to promote and protect the human rights of all persons without discrimination, and to develop a mechanism to ensure sustained ongoing attention to the systemic human rights violations on these grounds.
We look forward to working with States and stakeholders from all regions towards the day when all persons, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity, can live their lives in the equal freedom and dignity to which all human beings are entitled.