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HRC53: Independent Expert on SOGI calls for enhanced protection of LGBTI communities in the context of religion 

In his final report to the Human Rights Council as Independent Expert, Victor Madrigal-Borloz emphasises that freedom of religion and belief and freedom from violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity are fully compatible under international human rights law.

Earlier this week, Victor Madrigal-Borloz presented his last report to the 53rd session of the Human Rights Council. The report highlighted trends of State and non-State actors perpetrating violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) invoking religion or belief. These trends undermine the universality of human rights and equality for all.  In his report the Independent Expert also shared good practices from different States. This included in Canada, Scotland, England, Wales and India, where churches and other religious organisations had played an important role in decriminalisation debates.

We welcome that throughout his six years as Independent Expert, Madrigal-Borloz, emphasised the centrality and key role of civil society to fulfilling his mandate to ensure that all human beings, in all regions of the world, are equal and free without distinction of any kind. 

In a statement delivered during the interactive dialogue, ISHR deplored violence perpetrated by State and non-State actors based on SOGI invoking religion and traditional family values. ISHR also highlighted concerns about laws criminalising the identities of LGBTQ+ communities and restricting activities of LGBT defenders, which directly impact other laws and other national contexts. 

This aligns with concerns ISHR raised recently on a law recently passed in Uganda. In this regard, we welcome calls made by various governments and civil society during the interactive dialogue to repeal Uganda’s appalling anti-LGBTQ law.

ISHR’s statement echoed the Expert’s recommendations for States to:

  • Work with feminist and LGBTQ+-led and -serving civil society, including religious groups working inclusively, and apply principles of inclusion and intersectionality; and  
  • Create a safe environment where all are free from fear of violence and discrimination.

ISHR ended its statement expressing sincere genuine appreciation to the Independent Expert’s mandate and achievements in connecting the lived realities of LGBT people, communities and defenders with the UN. 

Many States intervened during the interactive dialogue expressing gratitude for the Expert’s work and everything Madrigal-Borloz has achieved over the last six years. This acknowledgment and appreciation was echoed in a side event on the achievements of the mandate that was held that same day. The side event also provided a space for States, civil society and human rights defenders to reflect on the achievements of the mandate and the way forward.

Watch the full video statement here:

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