COMMISSION ON THE STATUS OF WOMEN
57TH SESSION, 11 MARCH, 2013
STATEMENT ON BEHALF OF THE LESBIAN, BISEXUAL AND TRANSGENDER CAUCUS
In all regions of the world lesbians, bisexuals, transgender people and others who are seen to be outside the so-called norms of gender are targets of brutal acts of physical and psychological violence. In the global North and South, lesbians and transgender people are assaulted in streets and in homes, and in the name of “honor”, “tradition”, the “nation” and “the family”. This violence too often remains invisible. Perpetrators, whether police or other state actors, or, more likely, members of the communities and families of the people assaulted, often go unpunished. This invisibility must be challenged, this impunity must be stopped. Today we address you, as members of the Commission, to say the denial of the realities of our lives must end.
Even where there are laws that should protect against this violence, data from various regions shows that sexism, misogyny, homophobia and transphobia lead to patterns of abuses such as brutal extrajudicial killings; sexual assault including gang rape intended to punish women because of their real or even assumed sexual orientation; violence in homes enacted by family members; and of course, harassment and various forms of discrimination. But data collection is still a challenge: lesbians are not likely to report violence because of distrust of the very systems and people that should protect them, and because of fear of reprisals or threats to confidentiality.
In addition, activists and women human rights defenders are targeted for violence because of our defense of rights related to sexual orientation and gender identity; and also because of our own identities. Offices are raided, we are denied the right to legally register our organizations, we are arrested and otherwise harassed.
For decades LGBT and women’s groups have been demanding that violence and discrimination be prevented, punished and denounced. There has been progress in these calls to governments.. Within the UN system, there is an undeniable trend addressing violence related to sexual orientation and gender identity. The Secretary General has repeatedly named his concerns,. And as far back as 1997, the Special Rapporteur on violence against women noted that women who live outside heterosexuality are at risk. For over 20 years, treaty bodies have addressed sexual orientation. Six,, including the Human Rights Committee, CERD, CAT and CEDAW have addressed violence and discrimination targeted because of sexual orientation. And they are increasingly addressing gender identity. In 2011, the Human Rights Council approved a resolution on violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, which was followed by a report from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. And special rapporteurs continue to report on the violence enacted against lesbians, transgender people and other “gender nonconforming” people because of how we dress, what we say, what we do, and the choices we make about building family..
This violence must stop. And the Commission on the Status of Women’s silence on these issues must end. We encourage governments to continue to recognize that violence related to sexual orientation and gender identity exists, and to commit to preventing it. The realities are undeniable; and it is now time to act.