The Lesbian, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex (LBTI) Caucus is an informal coalition of over 300 representatives from every region of the world working to advance gender equality internationally, regionally, nationally, and locally. The Generation Equality Forum is a civil society-centered, global gathering for gender equality, convened by UN Women and co-hosted by the governments of Mexico and France. Action Coalitions reflect one of the objectives of the Generation Equality Forum: to achieve tangible results on gender equality during the UN Decade of Action (2020-2030) to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals.
Image courtesey of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women
LBTI CAUCUS MANIFESTO ON THE GENERATION EQUALITY ACTION COALITIONS
This year marks the 25th Anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women and its Declaration and Platform for Action, commonly known as the Beijing Declaration. This Declaration has since been the most progressive and comprehensive international blueprint and statement of commitment to advancing women’s rights and gender equality to date. Yet, 25 years since States committed to achieving gender equality, we are far behind and arguably facing more backlash than ever on women’s rights and gender equality. In particular, experiences of discrimination, inequality, and violence continue to be faced by lesbian, bisexual, trans, intersex (LBTI) and gender non-confirming (GNC) women and people. Increased surveillance, populism and rising xenophobia, racism, and sexism coupled with the introduction or greater enforcement of punitive laws and practices are severely threatening human rights. Now is the time for international action and coordinated interventions, putting forward communities and those most at risk at the center of responses, to ensure the achievement of the Beijing Declaration. Neither gender equality nor gender justice is possible without taking into consideration and including LBTI and GNC women and people in all discussions and action plans.
- Ensure access to justice and redress, as well as safe, sensitized, and non-discriminatory access to social and public services for LBTI and GNC women and people.
- Advance the understanding of “gender non-conforming” and “gender non-binary” and Include LBTI and GNC women and people as leaders and participants in all of the Action Coalitions
1. Gender-Based Violence
All LBTI and GNC people continue to experience human rights violations because of their real or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics (SOGIESC). This includes targeted killings, violent attacks, torture, arbitrary detention, incarceration, forced marriage, so-called honor killings, infanticide, hate speech, conversion therapy, impingements on rights to assembly, association and free expression, family or intimate partner violence, and harassment by both state and non-state actors. Those who are marginalized on account of age, race, ethnicity, religion, language, migrant status, economic status, disability, health status or caste, among other marginalized identities, experience compounded discrimination and violence of all forms. Human rights defenders who defend the rights of lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and gender non-conforming women and people suffer specific and escalating challenges and vulnerabilities, such as prosecution, violence, harassment, and the imposition of discriminatory restrictions on their organizations, without access to mechanisms for recourse and redress.
Discrimination and violence are exacerbated by laws that directly or indirectly criminalize individuals based on their real or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and sex characteristics. Punitive laws, policies and practices combined with lack of access to justice or protective legal structures leave lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex and gender non-conforming women and people. Furthermore, they face targeted violence and discrimination when seeking refuge from persecution, as well as in humanitarian emergencies. Responses to these violations are inadequate, underreported, and rarely properly investigated and prosecuted, leading to impunity for those responsible and depriving victims of justice, remedies, and support.
Socially constructed gender roles, norms, and stereotypes intersect with multiple other forms of discrimination, exacerbating exclusion and oppression.
- Annul legal and policy provisions that are used to arrest, punish or discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or sex characteristics, including laws that directly or indirectly criminalize LBTI and GNC women and people, such as “anti LGBTI propaganda” and “public decency” laws, or laws restricting comprehensive sexuality education.
- Prioritize the inclusion of rights-based, evidence-based and scientifically accurate comprehensive sexuality education in school curricula and out-of-school education programs that urgently address stigma, stereotyping and discrimination on the basis of SOGIESC.
- Enact legal and policy measures that prohibit violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or sex characteristics in all contexts, including education, employment, healthcare settings, housing, social protection, criminal justice and detention.
- Take legal, policy and public awareness measures to combat prejudice, stigma and stereotyping of LBTI and GNC women and people.
- Encourage states to ratify and remove reservations from existing treaties against gender based violence, and discrimination against women and LBTI and GNC people.
- National governments should put into place measures that effectively ban all forms of so-called “conversion therapy”.
2. Economic justice and rights
LBTI and GNC women and people experience exclusion from the formal labor market as well as discrimination within economic opportunities. Discriminatory practices in hiring, promotion, and remuneration often lead to loss of employment or job opportunities due to an individual’s gender expression or openness about their sexual orientation or gender identity. Transgender people face systemic discrimination in employment and high rates of workplace harassment, along with other forms of anti-transgender bias, leading to disproportionate rates of poverty. Discrimination in education, housing, health, and employment makes some lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and gender non-conforming women and people more economically dependent on male relatives, thereby forcing them into or to remain in unwanted, unfavorable or abuse relationships. This may increase risks of physical and emotional abuse and violence by partners or family members, and decrease their access to public services, social and legal protection and advocacy systems, and sustainable infrastructure. Studies indicate that suicide, or attempted suicide, is relatively common, due to compounding stigma, isolation, and acute mental stresses of these dynamics. Access to economic opportunities and freedom from discrimination within the workplace is therefore crucial for the realization of other basic human rights for LBTI and GNC women and people.
LBTI and GNC women and people face systematic discrimination in critical dimensions of development, including affecting access to healthcare, housing, education, and employment. These experiences negatively impact livelihood, human capital, and economic participation, ultimately creating and perpetuating a cycle of poverty.
- Fully decriminalize sex work, recognizing that criminalization creates barriers to the realization of human rights, access to public services and social protection, and promotes discrimination and marginalization;
- Adopt and enforce laws and regulations that respect, protect, fulfil and promote the right to decent work and rights at work of LBTI and GNC women and people and ensure that these legislative and regulatory measures extend to informal and digital economies as well.
- Adopt and enforce comprehensive anti-discrimination laws which protect individuals on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression, and sex characteristics.
- Institute monitoring and redress mechanisms to address and effectively remedy the various forms of discriminations faced by LBTI and GNC women and people at formal and informal and offline and digital workplaces.
- Undertake gender-responsive and LBTI and GNC-sensitive legislative and administrative reforms, including reforms of gender recognition, inheritance, intimate partner, de facto and marital laws and practices, birth registration policies, citizenship, and social protection policies, as well as eliminating discriminatory laws and customary and religious practices and norms, to protect and promote the right of LBTI and GNC women and people to access, use, own, and control assets and property.
- Enact national tax reforms that ensure a progressive tax system with real redistributive capacity and affirmative action measures, such as subsidy or tax exemptions, that preserve, and progressively increase, the income of poorer households and to assist the most disadvantaged and marginalized individuals and groups including LBTI and GNC women and people.
- Ensure that fiscal policies are subject to the scrutiny of rights-holders during design, implementation and monitoring, to ensure transparency and accountability. Governments should take specific measures to ensure equal access and opportunities to participate in policy design, particularly for those living in poverty, including for LBTI and GNC women and people.
3. Bodily autonomy and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR)
The criminalization of same-sex intimacy, gender affirmation, HIV transmission non-disclosure and exposure, and sex work heavily impact LBTI and GNC women and people’s bodily autonomy and limit the ability to access necessary public services that address an individuals’ sexual and reproductive health and rights. The stigma created around these laws lead to LBTI and GNC women and people’s inability to access healthcare that is necessary to ensure their reproductive health, and face discrimination in health services and harassment by health care providers. In settings where LBTI and GNC women and peoples’ bodies are criminalized, medical practitioners are limited in their ability to address their unique needs. Trans and GNC women and people face particular issues when accessing services in settings where legal gender recognition is inadequate or criminalized.
The practice of nonconsensual and unnecessary surgeries on intersex infants remains an underrecognized and underserved issue. Intersex people continue to be subjected to irreversible surgical interventions that share many of the same impacts of female genital mutilation – including physical and psychological suffering, scarring, and a reduction or erasure in sexual pleasure, function, and fertility. Medical need is often cited as justification for these surgeries, however, there is little to no medical evidence supporting the need for such intervention or its alleged short or long term medical benefits. Multiple United Nations treaty bodies and human rights experts have recognized that harmful, forced, coercive, and non-consensual procedures on intersex persons violates their rights to bodily integrity and freedom from torture and ill-treatment. Additionally, nonconsensual and unnecessary genital surgery performed on intersex youth directly violates both the spirit and letter of the 1989 Convention on the Rights of Children.
- Eliminate all legal and policy provisions that directly or indirectly violate bodily autonomy of LBTI and GNC women and people.
- Ban all non-consensual, medically unnecessary interventions on intersex children without their free, prior, and informed consent and forced-sterilization for legal gender recognition,
- Adopt gender identity laws that recognize the right of trans persons to rectify their name and gender component on birth certificates, identity documents and other legal documents, on the basis of self-determination.
- Gender identity laws should guarantee expeditious and simple procedures, based on self-determination, without the need for medical or psychological/psychiatric evaluations or certificates or limiting access to other rights.
- Gender identity laws must be clear, widely applicable, and include the rights of children and adolescents. They must guarantee the autonomy, protection and the development of the personality of all adolescents.
4. Feminist action for climate justice
Marginalized individuals are and will continue to be those first and most impacted by ongoing climate change, subsequent disasters, and environmental injustice, which are currently increasing in severity. Environmental injustice is exacerbated both by laws that do not address the root causes of climate catastrophes, as well as by laws that fail to ensure the basic rights of marginalized populations, such as LBTI and GNC women and people. Women, including LBTI and GNC women and people, have historically been, and continue to be, leaders on matters of climate justice, despite national and international laws and regulations which have reinforced systemic and intersectional discrimination and violence against them. Meaningful and lasting change and impact on climate justice must elevate the leadership of women and marginalized communities, and put them at the center of all responses.
- Establish environmental laws that recognize and ensure the human rights of groups that are marginalized, including LBTI women and GNC individuals, who are consistently among those most affected by the environmental crisis.
- Recognize the interconnectedness of climate justice and minority rights, and ensure that efforts to combat environmental catastrophes draw on the intersectional conceptual frameworks underpinning LBTI and GNC related advocacy.
- Ensure that humanitarian responses account for the specific needs of marginalized communities and that they are able to access safe, sensitized, and non-discriminatory services.
5. Technology and innovation for Gender Equality
Technology has proven to be a powerful tool for global and domestic activism and organization, however disproportionate negative impacts borne from the growth of technology has been faced by women, especially LBTI and GNC women and individual. Ironically, abuse and targeted attacks against LBTI and GNC women and people have been enhanced by the same technologies and innovations that have provided such communities a platform to coordinate, organize, and fight against discrimination and injustice. Technology and innovation are recognized as crucial in the protection of human rights and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), both of which require the inclusion of those most vulnerable, including LBTI and GNC women and people.
- Create legal frameworks protecting against all forms of violence and discrimination associated with new technologies, including but not limited to, cyberbullying, revenge porn, and doxing.
- Ensure the participation of LBTI and GNC women and individuals in the development and use of new technologies.
- Ensure the participation of LBTI and GNC women and individuals in the development and use of new technologies.
- Ensure that the interface of new technologies is non binary and inclusive of multiple genders.
- Develop and incorporate new technologies to facilitate the collection of disaggregated data on LBTI and GNC women and people’s realities and rights, in a safe way.
6. Feminist movements and leadership
LBTI and GNC women and people have been central to the struggle for women’s equality and pivotal to the feminist movement. Yet, LBTI and GNC women and people continue to face high barriers in accessing funding, are critically underfunded and underserved. While NGOs in many parts of the world currently work in an increasingly restrictive legal environment and face sustained and systematic political opposition, as well as high barriers to funding, such as decreased domestic and international funding opportunities or outright legal barriers to access funding, LBTI and GNC women and people’s organizations and activists face even greater vulnerabilities. Politicians and government authorities have engaged in coordinated public smear campaigns targeting NGOs, leading to greater stigmatization of LBTI and GNC issues and people, increased violence, and also impacting local support or donations. In countries where NGOs working on LBTI and GNC women and people’s issues already face ongoing and systemic stigma and receive marginal, if any, funding, the consequences on the human rights and well-being of LBTI and GNC women and people are extremely high. Furthermore, the imposition of restrictive laws and bureaucratic policies in many countries, make it harder, or even impossible, for NGOs to operate and receive foreign funding, thereby limiting their already restrained capacities.
- Support civil society, including those led by LBTI and GNC women and people, through targeted and robust funding opportunities and capacity building trainings to ensure that communities furthest left behind are meaningfully included in the commitments and implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action.
- Adopt laws and policies that protect the rights of human rights defenders and ensure access to justice and redress for individuals facing reprisals.