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Statement to UN Human Rights Council for LGBTI and COVID-19 Protections

187 of organizations call on States to protect LGBTI persons' human rights in the context of COVID-19 outbreak

The pandemic is exposing and deepening existing discrimination, violence and other human rights violations on the basis of SOGIESC, organizations tell the Human Rights Council

Today, African Human Rights Coalition (AHRC) joined a coalition of 187 organizations to draw the attention of the UN Human Rights Council to the situation of LGBTI persons and those who defend their rights in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak.

In line with the call to action signed by 96 human rights experts, organizations working for the protection of the human rights of persons of diverse sexual orientation, gender identity and expression and sex characteristics (SOGIESC)globally have urged States and stakeholders to ensure that this public health emergency will neither exacerbate existing misconceptions, prejudices, inequalities or structural barriers, nor lead to increased violence and discrimination against persons with diverse SOGIESC.

The current public health crisis caused by the spread of COVID-19 is a global emergency with far-reaching social, economic, and ecological implications for us all. At the same time, there is clear and growing evidence that State responses in the delivery of healthcare, the implementation of lockdown measures and policies designed to mitigate economic consequences have disproportionate and discriminatory impacts on marginalized groups, including LGBTI persons. The pandemic is exposing and deepening existing discrimination, violence and other human rights violations on the basis of SOGIESC.

While acknowledging that actions to combat the COVID-19 pandemic are urgent and necessary, States must ensure to comply with international human rights obligations in responses to the outbreak and the vulnerabilities of specific groups - including LGBTI persons - must be taken into account. To achieve this, the design, implementation and evaluation of State responses to this emergency must be done in consultation with civil society and defenders working for the protection of the rights of LGBTI persons.

A summary of recommendations

Right to health

In a context where access to health is at the core of a human rights approach to the pandemic, States must uphold their obligations to ensure the accessibility of health care and services to every person, including sexual and reproductive health, without discrimination of any kind.

Rise of stigma and discrimination and scapegoating of LGBTI persons

States must comply with international human rights laws and standards when implementing emergency measures, following requirements of legality, necessity, proportionality and non-discrimination, including on the basis of SOGIESC. States must refrain from targeting specific individuals or groups, using measures to roll back existing rights protecting LGBTI persons and combat hate speech aiming to connect the outbreak with the LGBTI community.

Access to housing, water and sanitation, and consequences of social distancing

States should guarantee that shelters are inclusive for all persons regardless of their SOGIESC and implement measures allowing LGBTI persons to report violence and discrimination suffered in a private context, including at homes and shelters.

Right to work and impacts on livelihood

States should ensure that emergency measures to address the socio-economic impacts of the pandemic, as well as recovery plans, are inclusive to LGBTI persons - especially to trans, older and homeless LGBTI persons.

Civic space restrictions

It is imperative that as this crisis ensues, governments and multilateral institutions maintain transparency, live up to their obligations, do not side-line genuine civil society participation, and ensure access to national, regional and international systems of accountability. States and stakeholders should implement lines of action designed to sustain and ensure the continuity of the engagement of civil society and human rights defenders in UN bodies and mechanisms.

Organizations signing the statement

  • ILGA World

  • 6Rang (Iranian lesbian and Transgender network)

  • ABGLT - Associação Brasileira de Lésbicas, Gays, Bissexuais, Travestis, Transexuais e Intersexos

  • Accountability International



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