International World Policymakers ‘in the dark’ on sexual orientation and gender identity: UN

Policymakers ‘in the dark’ on sexual orientation and gender identity: UN

An expert in the field says that information about LGBTQ experience is fragmented, at best, and calls for data concerning LGBTQ realities to be collected in order to protect them from violence or even discrimination.

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As Pride Month is celebrated this June, one independent expert from the United Nations voiced out concerns that there was very little data surrounding violence and discrimination targeted against the LGBTQ community, and that much of the world “is in the dark” about their lived realities.

He says that information about LGBTQ experience is fragmented, at best, and calls for data concerning LGBTQ realities to be collected in order to protect them from violence or even discrimination.

Such a lack, expert Victor Madrigal-Borloz believes, causes policymakers to stab in the dark, making their work less than effectual, while the lives of many in the LGBTQ community remain endangered.

The root causes of violence against this community are not sufficiently unknown, and therefore remain inadequately addressed.

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Mr Madrigal-Borloz is scheduled to present a report on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity at the UN Human Rights Council on June 24. However, even ahead of his presentation, he urges countries to actively gather data for the purpose of understanding the root causes of violence and discrimination against the LGBTQ community, for the purpose of eliminating these.

“States must adequately address this scourge through public policy, access to justice, law reform or administrative actions. In most contexts, policymakers are taking decisions in the dark, left only with personal preconceptions and prejudices.

My findings show that barriers created by criminalization, pathologization, demonization, and stigmatization hinder accurate estimates regarding the world population affected by violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Maintaining such a level of ignorance without seeking appropriate evidence is tantamount to criminal negligence.”

While data is already being gathered in several areas around the world, there are still aspects of LGBTQ experiences that are in lack. He gave the example of “the concerns of ageing LGBT people and intersections with disability, racism, and xenophobia.”

Moreover, there are actually instances where data is collected only to be used against LGBTQ individuals. “Further, in environments in which the State criminalizes certain forms of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression fully effective data collection is impossible: I have received multiple accounts of data being used for surveillance, harassment, entrapment, arrest, and persecution by government officials in such contexts.

Therefore, Mr Madrigal-Borloz urges for a more comprehensive data collection, and to make sure that this information is not misused.

He said, “I call on States to design and implement comprehensive data collection procedures to assess the type, prevalence, trends and patterns of violence and discrimination against LGBT persons. When doing so, States should always respect the overriding ‘do no harm’ principle and follow a human rights-based approach to prevent the misuse of collected data.”

Mr Madrigal-Borloz assumed the role of UN Independent Expert on Protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity for a three-year period starting on Jan. 1, 2018. “In this capacity, he assesses the implementation of international human rights law, raises awareness, engages in dialogue with all relevant stakeholders, and provides advisory services, technical assistance, capacity-building to help address violence and discrimination against persons on the basis of the sexual orientation or gender identity.”

According to his biography on the UN website, as a “member of the UN Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture from 2013 to 2016, Mr Madrigal-Borloz was Rapporteur on Reprisals and oversaw a draft policy on the torture and ill-treatment of LGBTI persons. Prior to this he led technical work on numerous cases, reports and testimonies as Head of Litigation and Head of the Registry at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and has also worked at the Danish Institute for Human Rights (Copenhagen, Denmark) and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (San José, Costa Rica).”/ TISG

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