LGBTI+ rights: During Pride Month, let’s stay mobilised and raise awareness


During Pride Month 2022, many LGBTI+ people are standing up for their rights through various events and festivities around the world. Yet, despite major strides advancing LGBTI+ rights, homophobia, transphobia, and biphobia still pose a threat; violence and discrimination are all too ubiquitous. For many LGBTI+ people in dozens of countries, the situation is still too dangerous to be out or support LGBTI+ rights. It is crucial to keep defending and advocating for LGBTI+ rights on this International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOTB).

There’s a lot to celebrate: we can rejoice about all the great achievements of recent months regarding LGBTI+ rights, such as the nomination of Karine Jean-Pierre as the new White House Press Secretary, making her the first Black person and the first openly LGBTI+ person to occupy this position, or Angola’s new Penal Code decriminalising same-sex relationships since February 2021.

Nevertheless, the rights of LGBTI+ individuals remain highly vulnerable everywhere in 2022. The International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia, celebrated each year on 17 May since 2005, is the occasion to shed light on these attacks and raise awareness about government failures to protect and respect LGBTI+ rights and about the repression LGBTI+ rights defenders still face in retaliation for their work.

Governments keep failing to respect LGBTI+ rights worldwide, despite recommendations and periodic reviews conducted by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to keep track of the evolution of the application of human rights in each country. Since March 2021, several governments rejected recommendations by the UNHCR regarding LGBTI+ rights, including the government of Thailand, which rejected four recommendations, the Maldives, which rejected seven recommendations, and Singapore, which rejected no fewer than 16 recommendations.

LGBTI+ violations often go hand in hand with other human rights violations, in particular women’s rights violations and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). In 2021 and 2022, international organisations pointed out severe violations in Iran for instance, where the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran highlighted before the Human Rights Council the discrimination in law and practice faced by women and girls and by LGBTI+ people. Poland too, which is under scrutiny of the European Council and European Commission and has received warnings since 2017, has continuously failed to improve its track record on LGBTI+ and women’s rights. The same issues are observed in Hungary, and the recent April 2022 elections do not bode well for any positive policy changes in the foreseeable future for LGBTI+ people in the country.

LGBTI+ rights defenders under attack

Organisations defending LGBTI+ rights have also been targeted in recent months. In Egypt, the overall human rights situation has deteriorated; LGBTI+ defenders have not been spared, up to the point where 32 states expressed in March 2021 their concern "about the application of terrorism legislation against human rights activists, LGBTI persons, journalists, politicians and lawyers". The same scenario was observed in Russia, where legislation was instrumentalised to target LGBTI+ defenders and organisations by accusing them of being “foreign agents” hostile to the Russian government. FIDH remains mobilised and advocates to protect LGBTI+ defenders and organisations from such harmful legislation.

Just like other human rights defenders, LGBTI+ defenders face the intimidation, threats, and assaults in retaliation for their work – in an attempt to silence them. Since June 2021 alone, there has been a surge in cyber attacks against LGBTI+ defenders and journalists in El Salvador; a prominent lawyer defending women, LGBTI+ persons, and individuals affected by HIV/AIDs was tortured while imprisoned in China; and two Guatemalan trans women defending LGBTI+ rights were murdered.

In addition to these chilling assaults, many LGBTI+ defenders are arbitrarily arrested and criminalised to prevent them from pursuing their work in favour of LGBTI+ rights. In Uzbekistan in January 2022, a LGBTI+ defender was sentenced and restricted from Internet access for advocating for the decriminalisation of same-sex marriage between men online. In May 2021, two Kazakh LGBTI+ defenders were violently arrested for holding a private meeting on women’s rights within their association. Judicial harassment is also part of the strategy put in place by authorities to intimidate LGBTI+ defenders: in October 2021 in Turkey, 19 LGBTI+ defenders appeared before the Ankara’s 39th Penal Court of First Instance for participating in an unauthorised peaceful Pride March in 2019.

On 17 May 2022, the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) reiterates its unconditional support to LGBTI+ defenders across the globe and continues to promote and defend LGBTI+ rights alongside them. Because every person has the right to enjoy human rights – regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Because we aspire to see people celebrate their pride, in June and all year long, without having to fear being assaulted on their way home after the party. Because gender diversity is something to be celebrated, not denigrated. Until these aspirations become reality, FIDH will keep combating homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia, hand in hand with LGBTI+ defenders and organisations.

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