IDAHOBIT: Celebrating the most recent advancements in the struggle of LGBTI+ persons

Washington D.C., May 17, 2024 -. “No One Left Behind: Equality, Freedom, and Justice for All” is the global theme for May 17, the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia+ (IDAHOBIT). Today we commemorate the date on which the World Health Organization (WHO) removed homosexuality from the list of mental illnesses of the International […]

Washington D.C., May 17, 2024 -. “No One Left Behind: Equality, Freedom, and Justice for All” is the global theme for May 17, the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia+ (IDAHOBIT). Today we commemorate the date on which the World Health Organization (WHO) removed homosexuality from the list of mental illnesses of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) Manual and remember that there is no democracy without the inclusion of LGBTI+ people.

Emphasizing that no one should be left behind implies reflecting on how many times LGBTI+ people have been excluded from public and private spaces due to their sexual orientation, gender expression, and gender identity; it means, for this reason, thinking about real inclusion where there is no place for hatred and rejection which are lethal to LGBTI+ people.  These phenomena kill by pushing them into the margins, they kill by bullying and suicide, they kill by violating their bodies and torturing their minds, and they kill by murdering them.

For this reason, this day calls us to the task of eradicating LGBTI+phobia in all its manifestations and from all areas of society.  At the Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights (Race and Equality), we are committed to this goal, and we believe that in this effort it is important to recognize every achievement achieved with the strength and arduous advocacy of LGBTI+ organizations against hatred and in favor of human rights.

Figures that make visible

In Nicaragua, for example, there is the Observatory of Human Rights Violations of LGBTIQ+ Persons, the only platform for social denunciation in the country created by the feminist organization La Corriente more than two decades ago. Despite the total closure of civic space and the context of censorship imposed by the Ortega-Murillo regime, the validity of the Observatory is a demonstration of society’s rejection of violence and other forms of discrimination.

A similar situation is that of Cuba, whose most recent achievement through referendum has been the approval of the Family Code, where same-sex couples can marry and adopt. However, in this country, there is no Gender Identity Law or official records that address the violence that this population suffers daily.

Strong voices in the face of subjugation

In Peru, LGBTI+ and human rights organizations recently spoke out against a Supreme Decree of the Ministry of Health that modifies the Essential Health Insurance Plan (PEAS), where it applies the obsolete ICD-10 and incorporates transgenderism, gender identity, and egodystonic sexual orientation as mental disorders to access medical and health procedures through health insurance. In response to the collective reaction of civil society, the Ministry of Health issued a statement noting that the implementation of ICD-11 is underway and affirming its position that gender identity and sexual orientation did not constitute diseases. Another inspiring example of persistence is the fact that the “I Have Two Moms” case reached the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and is now awaiting a ruling on the admissibility of the case that seeks the recognition of lesbian families in the country.

Building an Anti-Discrimination Legal Framework

In Brazil, in addition to the creation of the National Secretariat for the Promotion and Defense of the Rights of LGBTQIA+ Persons in 2023, there were 21 pro-LGBTQIA+ bills presented in the National Congress, among which was the proposed prohibition of the misnamed “sexual conversion therapies”, the reservation of places for trans people and travestis in federal universities, and the criminalization of political violence against LGBTI+ parliamentarians, among others. That same year, the Federal Supreme Court recognized that the crimes of homophobia and transphobia should be equated with racial slurs.

An End to Hate Speech and Practices

In Colombia, the Constitutional Court of Colombia made two important jurisprudential advances on the rights of LGBTI+ people. Judgment T-061 of 2024 declares the violation of the fundamental rights of LGBTI+ people and orders the influencer Luis Villa Westcol to rectify the publication of content that promotes hate speech. For the high court, the publication exceeded the limits of freedom of expression and incited hatred against LGBTI+ people. Secondly, the Constitutional Court, through judgment T-033 of 2024, declared the violation of the fundamental rights of two mothers who were questioned by a doctor from the Noel Clinic because, according to him, only the biological mother could be considered the “real” mother. This instance ordered the clinic to apologize and recognize the couple’s right to equality, rejecting discrimination based on sexual orientation.

While there is still a long way to go and we are currently seeing anti-democratic movements targeting the LGBTI+ movement, these advances demonstrate the resilience of the LGBTI+ community. They show that progress is possible even in adverse contexts such as Nicaragua and Cuba, and that LGBTI+ inclusion is essential to guaranteeing our democracies. It is necessary to get off of paper and for progress to be socialized and penetrate the consciousness of the people to make lasting and transformative change. States and society in general must commit themselves to taking action against discrimination and violence in all spheres of society. For this reason, Race and Equality recommends that States, in line with international human rights standards:

  1. Repeal laws that criminalize consensual sexual relations between adults of the same sex and ensure respect for sexual and gender diversity with legal frameworks.
  2. Develop rules and laws that guarantee equality and non-discrimination in public and private spaces.
  3. Punish hate crimes committed against LGBTI+ people and develop protocols for their proper investigation. Likewise, establish, comply with, and monitor the corresponding reparation measures.
  4. Recognize the gender identity of trans and gender-diverse people so that they can obtain identity documents that represent them, as well as access and exercise their basic rights.
  5. Implement training and awareness-raising programs on human rights, and sexual and gender diversity for police officers, health personnel, prison personnel, teachers, workers, and public officials in general so that they can carry out their duties without humiliating, mistreating, discriminating against, or violating LGBTI+ people.

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