75th SESSION OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY THIRD COMMITTEE
Statement delivered on behalf of
LGBTI UN Core Group by
Mr. Ghanshyam Bhandari
Deputy Permanent Representative of Nepal,
NEW YORK, 5 October 2020
I have the honor to deliver this statement on behalf of the Member States of the LGBTI Core Group.
The LGBTI Core Group is an informal cross regional group established in 2008. The group is co-chaired by Argentina and The Netherlands, and includes Albania, Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Cabo Verde, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Ecuador, El Salvador, France, Germany, Iceland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Montenegro, Mexico, Nepal, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the United States of America, Uruguay, the European Union, as well as the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the non-governmental organizations Human Rights Watch and OutRight Action International.
Our overarching goal is to work within the United Nations framework to ensure universal respect for the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all individuals without distinction, regardless of their real or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity and expression or sex characteristics, including lesbian, gay bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) persons. Our particular focus is on protecting LGBTI persons from violence and discrimination.
The legal obligations of States to uphold the human rights of all individuals, including LGBTI persons, without distinction of any kind are well established in international human rights law on the basis of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and subsequently agreed international human rights treaties. Similarly, States have a responsibility to ensure the protection of those human rights defenders that stand up for the human rights of LGBTI persons.
We would like to thank the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights for its continued support to this important cause. We welcome the release of the statement from the High Commissioner for Human Rights on targeted actions needed to protect LGBTI persons amid the COVID19 pandemic.
We express our full support for the mandate of the Independent Expert on Protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and look forward to the upcoming presentation of his fourth report to this Committee. This report analyses the impact of the COVID19 pandemic on social exclusion and violence and the interaction with institutional drivers of stigma and discrimination, including against LGBTI youth. It also analyses measures adopted in the context of the pandemic aimed at persecuting LGBTI persons or with indirect or unintended discriminatory effects and identifies good practice.
We welcome the release of the statement of the United Nations Experts on Human Rights highlighting that LGBTI persons need support from governments and should not be discriminated against during the COVID19 pandemic.
The ongoing public health crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a serious threat to human security and unprecedented challenges that affect the global community as a whole but additionally have had particular and unique effect on those who face multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination. LGBTI persons specifically are facing increased discrimination and stigmatization, for example through the introduction of discriminatory policies or practices into emergency legislation and lockdown procedures. LGBTI personas are also at much higher risk of violence during the pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a human security crisis that is widespread in scope and impact, with survival, health, safety, economic security and human rights being endangered as a result. In order to effectively respond to the impacts and consequences of the pandemic so that no one is left behind, the human rights and the needs of those most vulnerable and most affected, including LGBTI persons, must be addressed.
Restrictions on the freedom of movement may impede access to medical treatment and care. This affects individuals on chronic medication, as well as transgender and intersex individuals who may have specific health requirements. Equal access to medicines, vaccines and medical equipment must be ensured.
The economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic have worsened already fragile economic structures, and those most impacted are individuals who already faced discrimination in gaining access to formal employment and within the workplace. Social distancing policies and increased unemployment have severed impact on the persons belonging to the LGBTI community, which historically already faced economic discrimination. A high percentage of LGBTI individuals around the globe are low-income or working in the informal sector. The dramatic economic downturn caused by COVID-19 and the lack of sustainable structure to maintain economic well-being in times of crisis, have thrown these at-risk individuals into greater depths of poverty. The economic suffering of the global community directly impact physical and mental health and action must be taken to protect those in the most vulnerable situation.
It is critical that domestic and global responses to COVID-19 are mindful of the intersecting needs of LGBTI persons. Governments must ensure that international human rights are at the center of all COVID-19 responses and that no one is left behind. Response plans must identify and put in place targeted measures to address the disproportionate impact of the virus on marginalized groups, including LGBTI individuals. This is an opportune moment to reassess and evaluate normative structures that bar certain groups and individuals from safety, resources and wellness, and find practical ways to apply the obligations enshrined in our international human rights treaties. This is an opportunity to adequately respond to the COVID-19 pandemic for everyone, including for LGBTI individuals.
We take this opportunity to express our support for and pay tribute to human rights defenders that work for the protection of the human rights of LGBTI persons, as well as LGBTI individuals who speak out and serve as role models, and others engaged in combating violence and discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or sex characteristics. Their work, often carried out at considerable personal risk, plays a critical role in reporting on human rights violations and abuses, providing support to victims, and sensitizing Governments and public opinion. Through their work, human rights defenders that work for the human rights of LGBTI persons contribute to States adopting concrete measures to recognize and support their role and ensure their protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and sex characteristics. For this reason, we encourage Member States to consult with them before adopting these measures
We are fully committed to tackling these violations and abuses – at the domestic, regional and global levels, including through concerted and constructive engagement at the United Nations. And as we seek support from all Member States to this cause, we would like to stress that standing up against violations, violence and discrimination is not and should never be a matter of controversy. It is just, right and humane.
I thank you.