LGBTI rights | UN experts push for better protection across a range of topics


An updated series of factsheets by ILGA World and ISHR show that throughout 2020 the UN Special Procedures have regularly raised concerns regarding human rights related to sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics (SOGIESC).

An analysis prepared by ILGA and ISHR indicates that over the past year thematic UN Special Procedures mandate holders have consistently pushed for better protection of the human rights of LGBTI persons. This analysis stems from an update of a series of factsheets prepared by ILGA and ISHRs, which list the references and recommendations made regarding LGBTI persons and SOGIESC in communications, thematic reports and country visits by mandate holders.

Overall, in relation to LGBTI topics, the thematic Special Procedures sent 19 new communications, issued 28 reports on country visits and published 39 thematic reports.

We welcome the ongoing attention these experts are paying to SOGIESC human rights issues, including particular attention to the situation of LGBTI rights defenders. In that vein we acknowledge the references made by the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders, the Special Rapporteur on cultural rights and the Special Rapporteur on freedom of assembly and association. We also commend the strong LGBTI focus adopted by the Special Rapporteur on truth, justice and reparation, as well as good reference to LGBTQI indigenous people by the Special Rapporteur on Indigenous peoples. We encourage mandate holders to further strengthen their analysis of specific populations within LGBTI communities, such as LBQ women, trans or intersex persons.

Find out more about the trends in 2020 below! You can find the updated factsheets here.

Which experts include LGBTI issues most regularly?

The mandates that made the most regular references to SOGIESC issues were:

  • the Independent Expert on violence and discrimination on the basis of SOGI (22 items: 2 SOGIESC-inclusive thematic reports, 1 country report and 19 communications on LGBTI relevant topics);
  • the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders (13 items);
  • the Special Rapporteur on health (11 items);
  • the Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression (10 items);
  • the Working Group on discrimination against women (10 items);
  • the Special Rapporteur on torture (10 items);
  • the Special Rapporteur on violence against women (10 items).

2020 SOGIESC thematic reports, country visits and communications by mandates: 


19 new communications on SOGIESC – letters concerning allegations of human rights violations – were sent by thematic mandates for the period from 17 December 2019 to 20 November 2020.

All 19 communications were made with the Independent expert on SOGI. The other top mandates were the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders and the Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression (9 communications each), the Working Group on discrimination against women and the Special Rapporteur on health (8 communications each). In a welcome advance, four mandates (disappearance, minority issues, older persons and mercenaries) made their first communications covering LGBTI topics.

Communications covering SOGIESC issues were sent to 17 states from all UN geographical clusters: Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Egypt, Honduras, Hungary, Nepal, Netherlands, Republic of Korea, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, United States of America, and Zambia.

Countries that received communications:

Country visits

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of country visits has declined this year. However, because reports on country visits are usually published a year after the visit, in 2020 Special Procedures still presented 28 reports on country visits with references to SOGIESC. This covers 22 countries in all five UN geographical clusters.

Country visit reports published:

The countries include: Bulgaria, Canada, Colombia, Comoros, Ecuador, France, Gambia, Georgia, Greece, Honduras, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Mongolia, Netherlands, Nigeria, Peru, Qatar, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Ukraine, and Zimbabwe.

Some of the mandates, particularly, the Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities, and the Special Rapporteur on terrorism, presented their first SOGIESC-inclusive country reports in 2020.

Thematic reports

Special Procedures also included SOGIESC elements in their thematic reports to the Human Rights Council and General Assembly. In 2020, 39 reports (more than 50% of all thematic reports) mentioned some LGBTI related topics, with 12 of these reports – set out in the table below – including good or strong references to LGBTI populations.

2020 Thematic reports with good or strong SOGIESC references

Contact: Tess McEvoy, 

Photo: UN Photo/Mark Garten


  • LGBT rights
  • Special Procedures of the UN Human Rights Council
  • UN Special Rapporteur on HRDs