Empowering Change: The Role of International Organizations in LGBTIQA+ Human Rights

June 27, 2024

Many of the advances achieved in Latin American and Caribbean have been due to the support provided by the international cooperation to organizations and collectives for the enforceability, recognition, and respect of LGBTIQA+ people’s fundamental human rights.

More than ever before, international organizations play a key and strategic role in promoting the full enjoyment of human rights. The Latin American and Caribbean region is facing a strong and growing wave of human rights backlash, particularly affecting women and the most vulnerable and excluded populations and jeopardizing years of progress.

For LGBTIQA+ community, and in particular trans and non-binary people, the recognition of fundamental human rights such as access to education, decent work and health services, and the rights to legal relationships such as civil marriage or to live our gender identity, has been or could be undermined. This regression came with a constant legitimization of hate speech, which immediately increases violence, discrimination, and exclusion of LGBTIQA+ community, often escalating into hate crimes. This underscores the critical role of international organizations, not only as necessary but as pivotal in addressing these challenges.

Many of the advances achieved in Latin American and Caribbean have been due to the support provided by the international cooperation to organizations and collectives for the enforceability, recognition, and respect of LGBTIQA+ people’s fundamental human rights. This is what we must continue to do and is what I call the strengthening of the grassroots social fabric. It is the LGBTIQA+ ONGs, collectives and individuals who, from their experiences and struggles have the possibility and the competence to make their rights enforceable, backed by international human rights law. Our role is to support them in addressing the current challenges with consistency and sustained effort over time.

It is essential to enhance the capacity building of public institutions and congress to ensure the design and implementation of legislation and public policies to protect the human rights of LGBTIQA+ community. This includes eliminating the criminalization of homosexuality and transsexuality, designing or strengthening measures to sanction discrimination in all spheres and to protect us against all forms of violence, including hate crimes in the legal system of countries; promoting the implementation of Advisory Opinion OC-24 of the Organization of American States (OAS)  —the regional framework for the protection of human rights of LGBTIQA+ people—, and enact measures ensuring access to education, decent work and health services for trans and non-binary people as fundamental human rights, among other initiatives[1].

However, strengthening the capacities of public institutions and congresses, as well as LGBTIQA+ organizations must take three fundamental approaches: a) be based on evidence, c) from a multidimensional approach, and c) use the intersectional perspective as a spectrum of intervention. International cooperation must ensure that our contribution is evidence-based, especially given the limited data available to expose the barriers and abuses to LGBTIQA+ people’s human rights and to develop build tailor-made actions in each country. An example is the Analysis on vulnerabilities and violence against LGBTQ+ population in 5 countries of the Central American sub-region (2023).

Our role must also address the structural causes of exclusion and violence against LGBTIQA+ community, and this requires a multidimensional approach. The joint vision and intervention of all UNDP portfolios are needed to tackle the vulnerability and exclusion of the LGBTIQA+ community, from inclusive growth, democratic governance and peacebuilding, to gender equality, health and HIV, and the environment. 

Lastly, this articulation and approach must be grounded in an intersectional perspective. LGBTIQA+ individuals, especially trans and non-binary people, experience other discriminations such as misogyny, poverty, racism, xenophobia and exclusion due to disability, increasing their exposure to discrimination, exclusion and violence. Women and any expression close to the feminine face the greatest challenges and the most reliable impacts of the regression of human rights.

It is also key that international organizations and UNDP join forces with the private sector. From awareness-raising campaigns and dialogue roundtables to the inclusion of LGBTIQA+ people in the workplace, companies play a key role. In Argentina, the Contratá Trans initiative aims to improve the labor market integration of trans people in both private and public sectors, while a high school offers Mocha Celis occupational training to the transvestite, trans and non-binary community.

Our role in addressing the current challenges is also to act internally. It is essential for UNDP to reflect on how to ensure that our workplace is a safe environment for LGBTIQA+ people, attracts and seek out their talents, promotes human diversity, and is a place where discrimination against LGBTIQA+ community, especially for trans and non-binary people, has no place at all.




“All people, 
with all rights, 
every day, 
without any discrimination, any violence or
any exclusion”. – Rafaella Sánchez Mora



[1] For more information check here.