Everyone is born free and equal in dignity and rights. However, discriminatory laws, policies and practices against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) people are still in place around the world – in some countries, they are even resurfacing after being dormant for some years.
Therefore, we must take the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT) as an opportunity to raise awareness of the human rights of LGBTI people. It is also a chance to celebrate our diversity.
This 17 May, IDAHOT is focusing on justice and protection for all – both of which are central to driving progress on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Enacting and enforcing non-discriminatory laws and policies, repealing punitive laws and ensuring access to justice for all are also critical to delivering on the United Nations’ (UN) core commitment to leave no one behind.
Over the past number of decades, justice and protection of LGBTI people has seen significant progress globally. Just last year, for example, the Supreme Court of India unanimously declared that all forms of consensual sex between adults to be legal, effectively decriminalizing same sex relations in India. Angola repealed anti-homosexuality provisions and banned discrimination based on sexual orientation. Pakistan enacted a law protecting the rights of transgender people and, with support from UNDP and our partners, began work on a transgender welfare policy. Such progress is welcome but much more needs to be done to ensure justice and protection for all. Just consider the following:
- 72 countries and territories still criminalize same sex relations between consenting adults;
- Only 63 countries provide some form of anti-discrimination protection for LGBTI people;
- Just two countries ban unnecessary medical interventions on intersex children.
A number of countries even restrict freedom of speech and association relating to gender and sexual diversity. Therefore, legal and policy reforms that ensure justice and protection for all LGBTI people are more important than ever.
As one of the signatories to the Joint Statement on Ending Violence and Discrimination against LGBTI people, UNDP supports countries to promote inclusive development through initiatives to end exclusion, discrimination and violence against them. Currently, UNDP supports 53 countries around the world on LGBTI inclusion and rights through our close collaboration with governments and civil society organizations, as well as with our partners in the private sector and academia. Broadening horizons and finding concrete solutions is at the heart of UNDP’s work in this area.
Raising our voices against homophobia, transphobia, biphobia and intersexphobia on 17 May is a chance to reaffirm our commitment to respect human dignity and to champion human rights. We must do everything in our power to ensure justice and protection for all to ensure that no one is left behind.