International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia

Fecha: (6/12/2018 10:32:20 AM)


San José, Costa Rica. Articles 1 and 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights state that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights” and that they “are entitled to all of the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.” These ideals, however, have not been met for those who have a gender identity or expression or sexual orientation that differs from the heteronormativity, as expressed in Article 1 of the Inter-American Convention against All Forms of Discrimination and Intolerance, adopted on June 5, 2013 at the 43rd Regular Session of the OAS General Assembly.

With the purpose of contributing to the fight against discrimination of this population, the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia was established to commemorate the day, May 17, 1990, that the World Health Organization eliminated homosexuality from the list of mental illnesses. Today, in spite of this and other legal advances, lesbians, gays, bisexual, trans and intersex persons remain the object of hate crimes, many times deadly, because of their sexual orientation, gender identity or expression and corporal diversity, which continue to be pathologized and stereotyped negatively. In addition, LGBTI persons still do not enjoy fully all of their human rights nor are they given the equal protection that is due them by the failure of States to comply with their international obligations in the area, which places them in a situation of vulnerability and exclusion that is aggravated when combined with other causes of discrimination, such as ethnicity, disability, age, social condition, among others, their enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights reflected, for example, in the high rates of poverty and unemployment that affect them and their lack of access to education, health, housing and the violation of their right to form a family.  

On January 9, 2018, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights issued its Advisory Opinion OC/24, Identity of Gender and Equality and Non-Discrimination of Couples of the Same Sex, requested by the Government of Costa Rica, in which it recognizes the differential rights of this population. In its Opinion, which is obligatory on the requesting State, the Court gives guidelines to the States so that they might promptly legalize the recognition of gender with respect to the free election of persons, as follows:

(…) the right of each person to define his or her sexual and gender identity autonomously and that the personal information in records and on identity documents should correspond to and coincided with their self-defined identity is protected by the American Convention under the provisions that ensure the free development of the personality (Articles 7 and 11(2)), the right to privacy (Article 11(2)), the recognition of juridical personality (Article 3), and the right to a name (Article 18).

The Court also stated that:

8. Under Articles 1.1, 2, 11.2, 17 and 24 of the Convention, States must ensure full access to all of the mechanisms that exist in their domestic laws, including the right to marriage, to ensure the protection of the rights of families formed by same-sex couples, without discrimination in relation to those that are formed by heterosexual couples, as established in paragraphs 200 to 228.

For its part, the IIHR, in compliance with its mandate of human rights promotion, research and teaching, carries out different activities in support of one of its priorities Recognized and Valued Diversities, among them sexual diversity, found in its Strategic Framework 2015-2020: Educating in Human Rights and Promoting their Enforcement. Thus, among its activities are virtual training, lectures in its Interdisciplinary Courses, the “Welcome Everybody” campaign – on the right to access to health of this population, in association with the Mayorality of Montevideo, Uruguay- and the latest issue of the IIHR Review, No. 66, which is devoted to Advisory Opinion OC/24. 

On International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, the IIHR calls on the States of the region to ratify the Inter-American Convention against All Forms of Discrimination and Intolerance and to accept, in their domestic legal order, the standards that  the I/A Court has set out in OC-24 that recognize the differential rights of the LGBTI population. This formal recognition should be made reality through public policies and institutional measures that effectively respect and recognize sexual diversity, fully guarantee the right to access to justice for victims of hate crimes and that the harmful practices associated with the supposed conversion “therapies” become things of the past. This is the only way to eradicate the pathologization, the prejudices and stereotypes that encourage the multiple violences and discriminations to which the LGBTI population is subject, keeping in mind that the right to life also includes the right to be what one is.