NEW YORK, United States, Thursday May 19, 2016 – The United Nations (UN) is calling for an end to laws and policies that discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people, and for firm action to be taken against those who commit acts of violence against members of that community.
A joint statement issued by UN agencies in Latin America and Caribbean on Tuesday, the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia, pointed to the lack of response in some regional countries to barriers faced by LGBTI people. The UN bodies stressed that it was impossible to achieve equitable societies if segments of the region’s populations are deprived of their human rights, dignity and opportunities that should be accorded to everyone.
“LGBTI children, adolescents, youth and adults too often are excluded from legal protections, rejected by families and communities and lack equal treatment in schools, workplaces, health care settings and the streets,” the statement said.
“Multiple forms of discrimination increase their social exclusion, affecting their mental health and vulnerability to sexual and gender-based violence, HIV and other sexually-transmitted infections.”
It therefore called for Caribbean countries to remove laws and policies that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, and to pass laws and policies that ensure equal access to education, employment, health, housing, social protection and justice.
“Uphold the rule of law by investigating, prosecuting perpetrators, and providing redress for the victims of sexual and gender-based violence and discrimination,” it added, noting that a 2014 UNAIDS survey of men who have sex with men in the Caribbean revealed that approximately three of every five respondents had been verbally abused or intimidated. Almost one in five had experienced physical abuse.
The UN also urged the region to strengthen the education sector’s response to school violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity/expression, through documentation of the problem, appropriate policies addressing discrimination of all kinds, teacher training, curriculum reform and services for affected students.
Additionally, it said, governments need to enhance equitable access to all healthcare services for LGBTI people.
The statement stressed that all public policy development should include the active and meaningful participation of LGBTI people.
The UN agencies in Latin America and the Caribbean pledged their commitment to supporting the region to reach the Sustainable Development Goals for peace, justice, human rights, gender equality and development, without leaving anyone behind.