States must push back against harmful anti-gender narratives – UN expert

OHCHR

Individuals departing from gender norms and societal expectations are under attack in many parts of the world, stripped of their rights to self-determination, autonomy, bodily and mental integrity, a UN expert told the Human Rights Council today.

“At a time when the very concept of gender is being challenged, and some countries are even stepping up persecution of trans and gender diverse people and others, it is more important than ever that States create a safe environment for those who do not conform to society’s gender norms,” said Victor Madrigal-Borloz, the Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

He made the comments in a report to the Council analysing the incorporation of gender in international human rights law.

“Gender theory is a powerful tool to address the oppression of female or non-normative identities,” the report says. “Feminist struggle and the fight to live free from violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity are deeply intertwined, and they reinforce each other.”

By grounding his report in international human rights law, Madrigal-Borloz hopes that his report will dispute certain current popular arguments that he said “are plagued with misconceptions, stigma and prejudice.” The report was based on submissions by more than 500 individuals and groups with a wide variety of opinions.

For a tiny percentage of the world’s population, he said, gender norms result in privilege, but “for most of humankind – particularly women and people whose gender identity and/or expression do not fit squarely within the male/female binary – they will lead to discrimination and violence.”

Madrigal-Borloz called on States to adopt a gender-based analysis to address the root causes of violence and discrimination against persons because of their gender, gender identity and/or gender expression and sexual orientation. He also called for a world accepting gender diversity based on self-determination.

“States must do more to provide legal recognition of gender identity consistent with the rights to freedom from discrimination, equal protection of the law, privacy, identity and freedom of expression,” he said. “This means, among other things, that the administrative process must be simple, based on the applicant’s choice, and must not require intrusive or abusive measures such as surgery or hormone treatment. The gender identity of minors must also be respected under the law.”

Governments have a fundamental duty to prevent, prosecute and punish violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression, the report says, “and to recognise every human being’s freedom to determine the confines of their existence, including gender identity and expression.”

In many countries of the world, June has been designated the month of pride, “meant to signify the ability of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and gender diverse persons to occupy public space in full freedom and equality, and the recognition of the value of their contribution to the social fabric,” he said.

To make these a reality, “States must uphold rights related to gender and sexuality as universal and inalienable, and ensure recognition of the right to bodily and mental integrity, autonomy and self-determination of everyone,” said Madrigal-Borloz.

Mr. Victor Madrigal-Borloz will hold a hybrid press conference Friday, 25 June at 13:30 in Room XIV, Palais des Nations.

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