The human rights of LGBTI persons
The Government of Canada advocates for the protection and promotion of the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons globally.
More than seventy countries criminalize same-sex conduct using laws that often date back to the colonial era. For instance, five of these countries impose the death penalty. However, even when these laws are not enforced, authorities sometimes ignore hate-motivated violence, arbitrary arrest, torture, sexual assault and even murder of LGBTI persons. This can also take place in countries where same-sex conduct is not illegal.
What Canada is doing to protect LGBTI persons internationally
Canada believes the human rights of all persons to be universal and indivisible. This includes the human rights of LGBTI persons. In order to promote and protect the rights of LGBTI persons, we:
- engage constructively both bilaterally and within multilateral forums to promote the human rights of LGBTI persons
- share our own progress in protecting the rights of LGBTI persons and the positive impacts this has had for our communities
- consult and work closely with civil society organizations in Canada and abroad to promote the human rights of LGBTI persons
We use bilateral and multilateral channels to:
- call on States to decriminalize same-sex conduct
- support the work of grassroots LGBTI organizations abroad
- condemn violence and discrimination that target individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity
United Nations LGBTI initiatives
A growing number UN agencies and programs are now LGBTI-inclusive. At the forefront is the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). A summary released in 2015 lists the broad range of initiatives. The OHCHR’s LGBTI webpage includes links to UN reports and resolutions on sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as information on Vitit Muntarbhorn, Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The OHCHR also promotes LGBTI rights through its Free and Equal program. An example of one the United Nations Development Program’s initiatives is Being LGBT in Asia. UN AIDS also examines LGBTI and health-related issues in Asia. UNESCO is has been advocating for increased awareness on homophobia and transphobia in the educational system. The World Health Organization have drawn links between sexual health and human rights.
International organizations and funds
In Washington, D.C., the World Bank has just appointed its first Advisor on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Issues, while the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has appointed a Rapporteur on the Rights of LGBTI Persons. The Organization for Security Cooperation in Europe has studied hate crimes against LGBT people, and the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights voted to condemn violence on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The LGBTI issues have also been raised within the Commonwealth. Some international organizations also support programming in the area of LGBTI rights, including the Global Equality Fund, the Global Philanthropy Project, and the Arcus Foundation.
Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs)
More and more Canadian NGOs are working to raise awareness and improve the lives of LGBTI persons internationally. The Dignity Initiative and Egale are working on policy and programming in this area. Fondation Émergence and Equitas, based in Montréal, also work on LGBTI human rights issues.
- OutRight International
- ARC International
- Amnesty International
- Human Rights Watch
- The Royal Commonwealth Society
- Human Dignity Trust
- Kaleidoscope Trust
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