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GENEVA (May 16, 2022) – On the occasion of the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, a group of UN and regional human rights experts urged governments to ensure that lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and gender diverse (LGBT) persons fleeing persecution are protected against violence and treated with dignity. The experts issued the following joint statement: 

“Among 84 million people who are currently forcibly displaced worldwide, LGBT persons are particularly vulnerable and marginalized. Fleeing persecution and socio-economic exclusion, they often reside in countries that do not provide strong human rights protections or actively discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The structural vulnerabilities that LGBT persons face are intensified by their situation as migrants, asylum seekers, refugees, or internally displaced persons.

Persecution from State and non-State actors, as well as socio-economic exclusion fueled by stigma, discrimination, armed conflict, natural disasters, and climate change force many persons of diverse sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) to flee their homes in search of a safe environment, where they can live authentically and fully exercise their rights.

Over 2/3 of the world’s forcibly displaced people have not crossed a national border in their search for safety. LGBT persons who are internally displaced in countries that criminalize consensual same-sex relations and/or diverse gender identities are rarely systematically acknowledged and addressed by institutions that support internally displaced persons, most typically in fragile or conflict-affected areas.

Many LGBT persons in forced displacement who do cross an international border arrive in countries where they encounter similar or higher risks of violence, as well as xenophobia, racism, misogyny, ageism, socioeconomic marginalization, and isolation from traditional support networks. At all stages of their journey, they may be at particular risk of violence, abuse and exploitation from numerous actors, including though not limited to immigration and security authorities, traffickers, and smugglers

“With the number of forcibly displaced persons continuing to rise, States, businesses, and humanitarian and civil society organizations must invest in developing human rights-based policies and programs that take into full account the intersectional dimensions of forced displacement and sexual orientation and gender identity, fostering stronger collaboration and coordination among all actors responsible for the protection of displaced LGBT individuals.

Ultimately, the fundamental step to address the rising number of forcibly displaced LGBT persons around the world is to tackle the root causes of forced displacement and ensure LGBT persons can live free from violence and discrimination in their communities, by implementing laws and public policies that can transform the vicious spiral of abuse which forces them to seek protection elsewhere in the first place.” See full statement here.

(*) The experts: Victor Madrigal-Borloz, Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity; Felipe González Morales, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants; Cecilia Jimenez-Damary, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons; Balakrishnan Rajagopal, Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing; Clément N. Voule, Special Rapporteur on the right to peaceful assembly and association; Morris Tidball-Binz, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; Olivier De Schutter, Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty; Javaid Rehman, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran; Claudia Mahler, Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons; David R. Boyd, Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment; Tomoya Obokata, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, including its causes and consequences; Michael Fakhri, Special Rapporteur on the right to food; Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism; E. Tendayi Achiume, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism; Sorcha MacLeod (Chair-Rapporteur),  Jelena Aparac, Ravindran Daniel, Chris Kwaja, Working Group on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination; Pedro Arrojo Agudo, Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation; Ian Fry, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of climate change; Elżbieta Karska (Chair-Rapporteur), Fernanda Hopenhaym (Vice Chairperson), Anita Ramasastry, Pichamon Yeophantong, Working Group on Business and Human Rights; Miriam Estrada-Castillo (Chair-Rapporteur), Mumba Malila (Vice-chairperson), Elina Steinerte, Priya Gopalan, Matthew Gillett, Working Group on arbitrary detention; Alexandra Xanthaki, Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights; Siobhán Mullally, Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children; Francesca Albanese, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967; Fernand de Varennes, Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues; Melissa Upreti (Chair), Dorothy Estrada Tanck (Vice-Chair), Elizabeth Broderick, Ivana Radačić, Meskerem Geset Techane, Working Group on discrimination against women and girls; Reem Alsalem, Special Rapporteur on violence against women; Tlaleng Mofokeng, Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health; Gerard Quinn, Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities; Livingstone Sewanyana, Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order; Vitit Muntarbhorn, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia.

Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR)The Independent Experts are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

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