“Horrific violations” of the human rights of LGBT people continue unabated and their defenders are also being increasingly targeted, a UN expert reported today.

“LGBT people are suffering a crucible of egregious violations, including killings, rape, mutilation, torture, arbitrary detention, abduction, harassment, physical and mental assaults,” said the UN’s first Independent expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

“They are subjected to lashings and forced surgical interventions, bullying from a young age, incitement to hatred and pressures leading to suicide,” Vitit Muntarbhorn, an expert from the UN Human Rights Council, added.

Calling for immediate action to stop such violations, he said more than 70 countries around the world still criminalize same-sex relations, and the death penalty could be applied in some of them.

His blunt report is an important alarm bell since President Donald Trump’s attitude towards protecting LGBT people is unclear. Some of the positive work started around the world by the Obama administration might be rolled back because the religious right loathes such persons.

It is imperative to remove the death penalty for all cases related to the criminalization of LGBT people, he insisted.

“Even where there is no law criminalizing consensual same-sex relations, laws on public decency, public order and social peace are used in some countries to incriminate people under the umbrella of sexual orientation, gender identity and related gender expression.”

“It is unconscionable that people with an actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression different from a particular social norm, are targeted for violence and discrimination in many parts of the world.”

All laws criminalizing same-sex relationships should be removed from the statute books, and no other legal measures should be used to target LGBT people “for the purpose of consolidating power and suppressing dissent”.

Anti-discrimination frameworks should include effective measures to investigate violations, provide redress for victims and hold perpetrators accountable.

There is a need for effective anti-discrimination measures covering both the public and private spheres. “Not only formal but substantive, not only de jure but also de facto, in addition to the building of a community open to understanding and respecting sexual and gender diversity,” he added.

Brij Khindaria, Foreign Affairs Columnist
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