LGBT Progress Overshadowed by Abuses

United Nations general assembly hall

United Nations general assembly hall

NEW YORK - The second report ever released by the United Nations on protecting LGBT rights was published today by the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). The report outlines steps for governments to take in stopping LGBT discrimination.

There are 80 countries in the world today that criminalize consensual same-sex relations. The punishments vary, including prison sentences, torture, and the death penalty.

The report represents the gradual progress being made by governments in protecting LGBT people around the world. Since the first report released in 2011, 14 countries have adopted or strengthened laws that protect LGBT rights. These changes often extended protection of sexual orientation, gender identity and introduced legal protections for intersex persons.

But it is clear that the progress is overshadowed by abuse. The report states that “since 2011, hundreds of people have been killed and thousands more injured in brutal, violent attacks” because of their LGBT identity.

This violence is in part fueled by anti-LGBT rhetoric issued by regional, national, and international leaders.

In May the president of Gambia, Yahya Jammeh at a rally said that he would “slit the throats of gay men” in the West African nation. In 2014, the president of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, said that gay people were “disgusting” after being asked if he personally disliked homosexuals in a BBC interview.

Even in 2012, the Nobel peace prize winner and president of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, defended the current law that criminalizes homosexual acts by saying, “We like ourselves just the way we are.”

Although these leaders have not changed their opinion on supporting legislation that criminalizes LGBT persons, the UN report published today is meant to outline international obligations that leaders like these have in protecting their LGBT citizens.

The report outlined five standards and obligations that every state has in protecting the human rights of LGBT persons.

The report calls on countries to protect LGBT individuals from violence, torture and ill-treatment. This includes condemning “conversion” therapy for LGBT persons, forced and otherwise involuntary sterilization and treatment performed on intersex children.

The report also demands states to “decriminalize homosexuality and to repeal other laws used to punish individuals on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.”

States also have the “obligation to address discrimination against children and young persons who identify or are perceived as LGBT or intersex.” This means that states are obligated to protect children in schools from harassment, bullying, and in addition to protecting all LGBT people from lack of access to health information and services.

The report also outlined the obligation that countries have to “protect the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly and to take part in the conduct of public affairs.” This means that states must protect the rights of LGBT persons and LGBT allies to assemble and advocate for their rights.

In much of the world these standards and obligations are not followed and support for LGBT rights is often cited as a western construct meant to destroy autonomy and “traditional cultural values” that exist in sovereign nations.

However the United Nations has made it clear once again that this view is not acceptable.

The report states that “All human beings, irrespective of their sexual orientation and gender identity, are entitled to enjoy the protection of international human rights law.”

Contributing Editor: @AustinBryan
LinkedIn: Austin Drake Bryan

Could You Murder Her? Some Say Yes

jazz-jennings-13-years-old-transgender-photo-glaad-ap-e1399862020429.jpg

LOS ANGELES, CA - This post is neither for nor against the difficult choice some people face as they attempt to exercise their right to self-determination. We are, however, emphatically for human rights and against injustice.

We encourage everyone who weighs in on this issue to remember the old Native American saying, "Do not judge a man until you've walked two moons in his moccassins.'

Life is not easy anywhere, and it is exponentially challenging in countries with stagnant or emerging economies. Female infanticide occurs most often in countries where females are perceived as a drain on finite economic resources, and this burden serves as justification for aborting or killing a girl.

According to Palash Ghosh in a September 2013 article titled "A Deadly Preference For Male Offspring: The Killing Of Baby Girls In India And Pakistan," there is an ancient preference for male offspring in South Asian society and other parts of Asia and the Middle East.

This preference, according to Ghosh, resulted in the horrendous murder of a one-and-a-half year old Pakistani baby girl who was drowned by her father in front of her mother because he wanted a son.

Amazingly, less than a year later, in April 2014, India's supreme court in a landmark ruling declared that "It is the right of every human being to choose their gender," as it granted rights to those who identify themselves as neither male nor female.

According to the Trans Murder Monitoring Project, 2013 marked "the highest number of murders of minors in the five years it has been keeping statistics. Since the beginning of that year, 22 trans people were reported killed. Eleven of these were under the age of 18.

These include a 13-year-old trans girl strangled in Macaiba, Brazil, on June 9; a 14-year-old trans girl strangled in the city of Ibipora, Brazil, on Oct. 15; and 16-year-old trans girl murdered by a mob at a house party in St. James, Jamaica, on July 22.

Since 2008, Transgender Europe has documented 1,374 murders of trans people in 60 countries worldwide. Of these, 108 victims have been under the age of 20." (Source: Buzzfeed)

Given those circumstances, and the fact that men in general enjoy greater economic prowess, freedom to chart their own destinies, and a host of other intangible benefits; it is a wonder that any person born male would opt to live as a female.

Thus, when people learn about the beautiful transgender child pictured above and in the video below, the bias against females is tossed out, but an often less defined, but more visceral response is evoked. Unlike millions of transgender people around the world, the angelic child whose name is Jazz Jennings has the full support and love of her family, which has often been the only thing standing between her and the people who desire to physically harm her.

I Am Jazz: A Family In Transition, aired on OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network, and presented a transparent view into the life of Jazz and her family; thus transmuting her from the status of "the other" to that of "human." We may not understand. We may even feel from a cultural or religious standpoint that she is anathema. But, at the end of the day, not one human has a heaven or a hell to send someone to, and we would do well to remember that despite our individual struggles we are all God's creatures.

India to Recognize Third Gender

hijra-dance-chhath-festival-strand-road-kolkata-2013-11-09-source-wikipedia.jpg

INDIA - A decision was made on 15 April 2014 in favor of the 3 million Indians who are transgender. On legal forms, there is now a third category marked either "transgender" or "other." The Indian constitution orders against gender discrimination and more and more people are beginning to realize that that includes more than just men and women.

Transgender is defined as someone who has acquired physical characteristics of the opposite sex, who identify as neither male or female, or who present themselves in a way that does not correspond with their sex at birth.

Among other things, transgendered people now have the legal right to adopt children and to have the same jobs as non-transgendered people. Before the law, the majority was either restricted to "show" careers -- singing and dancing -- or to a life of begging or prostitution. Now if needed they can be included in welfare programs that help provide jobs, education and healthcare.

Public toilets for the transgender community as well as transgender-specific health services are now available. India has also launched public awareness campaigns to fight the stigma against transgender people.

Since the ruling, 28,000 people have chosen to identify themselves as "other" on voter registration forms.

Follow Sarah on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Contributing Journalist: @SJJakubowski

Related articles