Sexual orientation and gender expression form an integral part of an individual’s identity the world over, and violence, stigma, and discrimination based on these attributes constitute an egregious violation of human rights. LGBTI persons across the world continue to be the targets of violent attacks and are affected by multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination based on age, gender, ethnicity, disability, and social status.
In the backdrop of re-criminalization of IPC section 377 verdicts of the Hon. Supreme Court of India in December 2013, rejection of Review petition of the same in Jan 2014 and positive response on Curative petition in year Feb 2016, and fresh WRIT petitions filed by various groups. The Hon. Supreme Court of India has also given a historical judgment identifying third gender and their rights on NALSA petition in April 2014 and historically one Private members bill “The Rights of Transgender Persons Bill 2014 “got passed in Rajya Sabha in December month. Government of India has also introduced “The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill 2016” in Lok Sabha. In the year 2017 two landmark acts “Mental Health Care Act 2016” and “The Human Immunodeficiency & Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (Prevention & Control) Act 2017” got passed in Parliamentary forums.
On 6th September 2018, the Hon. Supreme Court of India read down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, decriminalising ‘unnatural sex’ between consenting adults, leading to celebrations across the country and the world.
India and the UN
On 29 September 2015, 12 UN entities (ILO, OHCHR, UNAIDS Secretariat, UNDP, UNESCO, UNFPA, UNHCR, UNICEF, UNODC, UN Women, WFP and WHO) issued a joint statement calling for an end to violence and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people.
What does this statement say:
Do more to protect individuals from violence, torture, and ill-treatment,
Repeal discriminatory laws and protect individuals from discrimination,
Includes an expression of the commitment on the part of UN entities to support Member States to do so.
In June 2016, United Nations Member States committed in the Political Declaration on Ending AIDS to promote laws and policies that ensure the enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for children, adolescents and young people, particularly those living with, at risk of and affected by HIV, so as to eliminate the stigma and discrimination that they face.
UNAIDS urges countries to ensure the full respect of the human rights of all people, regardless of their sexual orientation, through repealing laws that prohibit sex between consenting adults in private, enforcing laws to protect people from violence and discrimination, addressing homophobia
The Road to Equality Workshop
UNAIDS and UNDP are supporting a national workshop for the promotion and protection of human rights of LGBTI persons from 15th to 16th May 2019 in New Delhi, India. The workshop will focus on the three main areas of enquiries – a status update, development of joint roadmap and setting up a national convening body on LGBTI equality and empowerment.
For each of these areas there will be an underlying theme of discussion which will allow participants to hold concrete discussions and to produce solid recommendations on the three areas of enquiry. Participants will share their experience, lessons learned and good practices on these three areas. They will also identify common priorities and challenges as well as the ways and means to overcome them. The role of NHRIs, Government, Development Partners and NGOs in this process of cooperation will also be discussed.
The workshop will also allow taking stock of achievements and on ground realities, and participants will present initiatives of cooperation undertaken, their added value and benefits, as well as the challenges encountered in their implementation. They will also discuss lessons learned and best practices in relation to cooperation tools already in place.
This workshop seeks to:
Achieve a broad consensus on actions implemented in country since the judgement to end Section 377
Develop a concrete road map on advocacy priorities for LGBTI persons over the next 3 years
Develop some ideas re cooperation between UN and national/state level human rights mechanisms in three areas: sharing information, joint activities and follow up on recommendations and strategies to effectively implement them
Set up a national think tank and governance mechanisms to track progress and network with relevant stakeholders.