The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) has joined a cross-regional coalition of over 300 civil society organisations calling upon the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) to respond to the grave risks facing human rights defenders who work on these rights.

“Defenders of ESC rights are increasingly facing heightened threats and risks to their health and life as a consequence of their work on ESC rights,” reads a letter signed by the coalition of civil society organisations. “They are being killed, threatened, harassed, intimidated, disappeared, jailed and stigmatised – in attempts to silence them and prevent them from doing their vital work promoting, protecting and realising the rights contained in the ICESCR.”

Defenders of ESC rights are a vast group: they may not even call themselves human rights defenders, and they include many different kinds of LGBTI activists. An ESC rights defender can be a teacher working to ensure their schools are safe for LGBTI students, a health worker promoting HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment within LGBTI populations, a person striving to guarantee that intersex persons are not subjected to unnecessary and involuntary medical procedures, or someone fighting for Trans persons to have equal access to employment.

Their work puts them at risk, and this is why NGOs, communities and social movements call on the Committee – whose 58th session begins today in Geneva – to “address this concerning situation, including by making a public statement on ESC rights defenders.”

“We believe the Committee can help to ameliorate the situation by recognising the important work of ESC rights defenders for the realisation of rights under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), and calling on States to protect them and the space for them to do their work.”


Read the full press release here
Download the letter signed by 301 civil society organisations in English | in French | in Spanish