Experts create global standards for sexual rights and gender equality

Yogyakarta Principles’ are seen as a milestone for the LGBT community

April 02, 2007

Twenty-nine international human rights experts converged on Geneva, Switzerland, last week for an event of utmost importance to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. Together, the group developed a groundbreaking set of principles (known as the Yogyakarta Principles after the city where it was adopted) on sexual orientation, gender identity, and international law that are being called a landmark advance in the struggle for basic human rights as well as gender equality.

“These principles establish basic standards for how governments should treat people whose rights are too often denied and whose dignity is too often reviled,” Scott Long, director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights Program at Human Rights Watch, said in a release. “Firmly grounded in law and precedent, they enshrine a simple idea: human rights do not admit exceptions.”

The “Yogyakarta Principles on the Application of International Law in Relation to Issues of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity” were adopted by a meeting of experts in international law in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, late last year. They confirm legal standards for how governments and other actors should end violence, abuse and discrimination against LGBT people and ensure full equality.

The experts launching the principles include a former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, as well as UN independent experts, members of UN treaty bodies, judges, activists and academics. Human Rights Watch was part of a secretariat supporting the work of the experts who developed the principles. The Center for Women’s Global Leadership was a member of the advisory committee to the secretariat.

“For more than three decades, lesbians have been among the millions of women’s rights activists pressing the international community to put gender equality at the heart of the human rights agenda,” said Charlotte Bunch, executive director of the Center for Women’s Global Leadership. “These sweeping principles are a bold and important step forward. Addressing civil and political as well as economic, social and cultural rights, they show how sexual rights and gender equality are inextricably interwoven with the full scope of rights protections.”

The Yogyakarta Principles were developed in response to well-documented patterns of abuse around the globe. These abuses, perpetrated because of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity, have affected millions. The principles address:

rape and other forms of gender-based violence;
extrajudicial executions;
torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment;
medical abuses; repression of free speech and assembly;
and discrimination in work, health, education, housing, access to justice and immigration.

The principles also map out a positive road to full equality for LGBT people around the world. Each principle is accompanied by detailed recommendations to states on how to end discrimination and abuse. The principles also call for action from the UN’s human rights system, national human rights institutions, the media, nongovernmental organizations and others.

The principles were launched earlier this week at the UN Human Rights Council’s session in Geneva, where last year 54 states called for the council to act against egregious violations of the rights of LGBT people. Source: Yogyakartaprinciples.org. – Issued by Gay Link Content

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