“Despite five decades of progress, equality is not within reach, and often not even in sightfor all persons affected by violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the United States,” said Victor Madrigal-Borloz, the UN independent expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Mr Madrigal-Borloz presented his after a 10-day visit to Washington DC, Birmingham, Alabama; Miami, Florida; and San Diego, California.
There, according to a press release from the human rights agency OHCHR, he met officials from each state, members of civil society and others who shared their experiences.
He said those in the LGBT community, especially people of color, continue to face significant inequalities in health, education, employment and housing, and are disproportionately affected by violence.
While the Biden administration has taken significant steps to address these challenges, they remain “under a concerted attack.”
“I am deeply alarmed by a widespread, deeply negative wave created by deliberate actions to reverse the human rights of LGBT people at the state level,” he said, noting that these include highly discriminatory measures to rebuild stigma against lesbians and gays, limiting comprehensive sexual and gender education for everyone, and access to gender-affirming treatments, sports facilities and same-sex facilities for trans and gender diverse people.
“The evidence shows that, without exception, these actions are based on biased and stigmatizing views of LGBT people, especially transgender children and young peopleand try to use their lives as props for political gain,” said the independent expert.
Madrigal-Borloz also met with authorities at an asylum-seeker detention center and the San Ysidro gateway on the border with Mexico, expressing concern that LGBT asylum seekers and refugees are “continue to suffer the consequences of discriminatory frameworks adopted by the previous government and not yet dismantled,” the press release said.
He noted that the US had played a central role in the design and adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “which has provided a compass to a world where all people see their dignity respected and live freely and equally.”
“The Biden-Harris administration has taken strong and meaningful actions that are consistent with international human rights law, reveal a thoughtful strategy created through participatory approaches and provide significant capacity for its implementation. This is exactly the combination of values, knowledge and muscle power that can drive social change.
“In the light of a joint attack to undermine these actions, I urge the government to redouble its efforts in support of human rights of all LGBT persons living under its jurisdiction and helping them to get safe water,” he said.
Special rapporteurs and independent experts are appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to investigate and report on a specific human rights issue or situation in a country. The positions are honorary and the experts are not paid for their work.
St Kitts and Nevis decriminalize gay sex
The United Nations agency working to end the AIDS pandemic, UNAIDS, welcomed a ruling on Tuesday in the St. Kitts and Nevis High Court that laws criminalizing gay sex are unconstitutional.
The landmark decision means the laws were immediately removed from the Caribbean Islands Code, which remained in effect after independence from the United Kingdom in 1983.
The Court affirmed the plaintiffs’ allegation that Sections 56 and 57 of the Offenses Against the Person Act violate the right to privacy and freedom of expression.
“This landmark ruling is an important step forward in ensuring equality and dignity for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities in St. Kitts and Nevis and throughout the Caribbean,” said Luisa Cabal, UNAIDS Regional Director for Latin America. and the Caribbean.
“Today St. Kitts and Nevis join a growing list of Caribbean countries that have overturned these colonial-era laws that deny people’s human rights and halt the response to the HIV pandemic. Everyone benefits from decriminalization.”
Laws that penalize same-sex consensual relationships, in addition to violating the human rights of LGBT people, are a major obstacle to improving health outcomesalso in the HIV response, UNAIDS said.
Such laws simply perpetuate stigma and discrimination against LGBT people and act as a barrier to LGBT people seeking and receiving health care out of fear of being punished or detained.
Decriminalization saves and changes livesthe agency said in a press release.