Participation of LGBTI+ persons in political and electoral processes helps to build stronger democracies

November 7, 2023

The political representation of LGBTI+ persons in parliaments and their participation during elections is essential to improve human rights and to build stronger democracies.


The political representation of LGBTI+ persons in parliaments and their participation during elections is essential to improve human rights and to build stronger democracies, according to the new UNDP publication- ‘Building inclusive democracies: A guide to strengthen participation of LGBTI+ persons in political and electoral processes’, released today. 

Featuring experiences from over 80 countries, mainly from the Global South, the publication identifies entry points for the greater participation of LGBTI+ persons in elections. It also highlights the need to embrace sexual and gender diversity in political processes. The publication reveals that LGBTI+ representation in elective office has a positive impact on the adoption of legislation and policies recognizing fundamental rights.

“UNDP expects to use this publication as a springboard for targeted activities to further integrate the political participation and rights of LGBTI+ persons in its governance and electoral programming,” stated Sarah Lister, Head of Governance at the UN Development Programme (UNDP).

“We aim to provide policymakers, Electoral Management Bodies, legislators and civil society with a clear set of tools and best practices from around the world to help break down these barriers.”

As we mark the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights this year, this milestone publication aims to foster inclusive governance— one of the proven means to promote stability, peace and progress across the Global Goals.

"We, members of the global LGBTI+ community are here, and we are here to stay. But many of us today still face discrimination, violence and sometimes even criminalisation just for being who we are, and for whom we love. A good way to change this reality is of course to strengthen our participation in elections and in politics in general. We need more of us in decision-making processes at all levels! In the end, this is about strengthening democracy. That is why this publication is so important,” states Malin Björk, Member of the European Parliament. 

Much progress has been made in recent years, including the fact that the number of countries that criminalize private, consensual same-sex relationships has decreased from 113 in 1990 to 62 in 2023. However, in countries where discrimination still persists, LGBTQI+ people are exposed to the risk of arrest, prosecution, and imprisonment. A small number of countries have even begun to consider extending existing criminalization, even to the point of considering bans on relevant work by human rights defenders and introducing the death penalty for so-called ‘aggravated homosexuality’. 

Policies to guarantee the right to vote of trans and non-binary persons without discrimination have been promoted in Bangladesh, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Guatemala, India, Pakistan and Peru, among other countries, but further reforms are needed to guarantee the equality in the exercise of political rights and   participation of LGBTI+ persons, according to the publication.

"All members of society have a shared responsibility to listen to the voices of LGBTI+ citizens and support their meaningful participation in democratic processes around the world", says Lluís Juan Rodríguez, author of the publication.

Despite progress being made globally, in some contexts hate speech and information pollution   have led to an increase of violence against LGBTI+ persons in political and electoral processes, according to the publication.