Statement for International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT)

Date: Wednesday, May 17, 2017

On this International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT), UN Women joins with the international community to support the LGBTI community and “Celebrate Family Diversity”. We stand firmly behind the full human rights of all LGBTI people. Violations of the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people undermines the shared international goal of gender equality. Addressing and ending such violations is part of the fulfilment of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’s promise to leave no one behind.

Creating an environment of equality, support and non-discrimination starts at home. Under international law, all members of a family should enjoy the same liberties and rights regardless of age, sexual orientation or gender identity. We know the family can represent a space of love, support and acceptance, particularly in a context where discriminatory social norms dominate. Families can provide a supportive space that is free of violence and degrading treatment. They can foster and transmit values of respect and equality to the next generation that do not ingrain stereotypical gender roles.

However, in other cases, the family can impose strict rules and norms with deeply entrenched gender and generational inequalities. Members of the LGBTI community may face rejection and exclusion, or violence and bullying within their own families. This comes on top of the human rights violations and abuses based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity and expression and sex characteristics, too often with impunity. We must work together to change these dynamics.

International human rights law guarantees to all persons, the right to life, security of person and privacy, the right to be free from torture, arbitrary arrest and detention, the right to be free from discrimination and the right to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly.

We are committed to working closely through and with inter-agency mechanisms, UN Country Teams, civil society partners and others to contribute to the empowerment and realization of LGBTI people’s rights, for example to create a LGBTI informal working group that supports UN Women to develop work on LGBTI human rights and development as needed. LGBTI activists are key current and former members of UN Women’s civil society advisory groups (including members of the LGBTI Caucus) at the global, regional and national levels. We have worked closely with our regional, liaison and country offices to strengthen the civil society advisory groups using an intersectional lens, and have important relationships on the ground in several countries with LGBTI civil society members, which often feeds into country-level programming.

Today, we focus on and celebrate the evolving nature of families. The acceptance of different types of family structure and formation continues to grow in many parts of the world. Many children now live with only one parent, with grandparents or other relatives, or with same-sex parents. Some countries offer legal protection for children born outside marriage or to single parent families. Elsewhere, policies are being adopted that support a modern-day family unit, regardless of its formation. For example, gender-neutral paid parental leave, inclusive of families who adopt or foster, emphasizes the message that it is the responsibility of both parents to take care of children, regardless of gender.

There is still much work to be done to support the equal rights of the LGBTI community, including repealing legislation that criminalizes consensual same-sex relationships in more than 70 countries, and granting rights, recognition and protection to transgender and intersex people. National laws need to uphold equal rights and freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly for LGBTI people. Even where there is progressive legislation already in place, social norms may not reflect them. Some fear that new familial structures undermine traditional values or the health of society, which can create backlash or enhance violence and discrimination.

UN Women stands with the LGBTI community and calls for equal rights for all people regardless of sexual orientation or gender expression.