Last week the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association presented his report to the Third Committee of the General Assembly urging states and private sector to respect the exercise of human rights of those mobilising peacefully to address the climate crisis.
In November 2006, in response to well-documented patterns of abuse against LGBTI people, a group of international human rights experts outlined a set of international principles relating to sexual orientation and gender identity, the Yogyakarta Principles (YPs). The 29 principles are a restatement of existing international law which spans core civil and political rights like the freedom of movement and assembly, as well as core socio-economic rights, such as the right to education and to work.
In 2017, to mark the 10th anniversary of the YPs, the Yogyakarta Principles plus 10 (YPs +10) were adopted as a supplement to the YPs. The YP +10 document emerged from the intersection of the developments in international human rights law with the emerging understanding of violations suffered by persons on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity and the recognition of the distinct and intersectional grounds of gender expression and sex characteristics.
Over the past 14 years, the YPs have been referred to in national, regional and international fora to strengthen the protection of the rights of LGBTI persons. Civil society has been the driver of this progress. Below we discuss some recent developments following the drafting of the YPs +10.
The YPs have been relied upon in various domestic judgments. In 2016, the Court of Appeal in Botswana referenced the YPs when ordering the registration of an LGBTI organisation, and confirming that the refusal to allow the registration was unconstitutional. In 2015 Nepal became the 10th country to specifically protect LGBT persons in its Constitution. The decade prior to that was critical in the evolution toward that moment, as LGBT activists won significant victories in Nepal’s courts, including the 2007 judgment recognising a third gender that used YPs to define sexual orientation and gender identity. In India in 2018, the YPs were used to support a successful challenge to section 377 of the Indian Penal Code and decriminalise homosexuality. These decisions in South Asia were then cited by the District Court in the Netherlands in its recognition of a third gender in 2018.
Beyond legal cases, the YPs have provided a basis for civil society advocacy and campaigns. In the Netherlands, activists have promoted customised health care for trans persons in line with the YPs, and the YPs have been embraced in the international trans depathologisation agenda. In 2018, the Australian Human Rights Commission refered to the YPs in a discussion on best practices in the protection of the human rights of intersex persons in the context of medical interventions. Most recently, in November 2020, the YPs +10 were relied upon in resources and arguments for a bill on the Integral Protection of Sex Characteristics in Argentina.
In 2018, referring to the YPs and YPs +10, the Inter American Court advised Costa Rica that it should ensure that trans persons can change their name and gender markers on identity documents, and that same-sex couples enjoy full family rights, including marriage. In 2020, ISHR submitted a third-party intervention to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in relation to trans femicide in Honduras, arguing that various principles in the YPs and YPs+10 had been violated.
The YPs were relied upon in a communication to the UN Human Rights Committee as calling for legal recognition of gender identity, regardless of marital status, and were referenced by the Committee in its decision in 2017. That same year, ISHR submitted a third-party intervention relying on the YPs to the Human Rights Committee in relation to an individual complaint regarding attacks against an advocate for LGBTI rights in Russia. In 2019, a joint statement of National Human Rights Institutions in the Asia Pacific region confirmed their intention to monitor State compliance with responsibilities to respect human rights of LGBTI people, in light of the YPs.
‘In providing a consistent understanding of international human rights law and its application to issues of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression and sex characteristics (SOGIESC), the YPs and YPs +10 assist States to clearly understand their duties. We’re looking forward to the continued progress – led by civil society – and based on the YPs, and critically the newer YPs +10, in enhancing the protection of all persons from discrimination based on SOGIESC,’ said ISHR’s Tess McEvoy.
Contact: Tess McEvoy, [email protected]
Today, UN member States elected members to the UN's top human rights body, the Human Rights Council, for the 2022-2024 term. 18 candidates ran for 18 seats, and all were elected, leaving civil society disappointed in a process that can hardly be called an election.
During the 48th session of the Human Rights Council, civil society expressed concern and condemnation about an anti LGBTI bill in Ghana, while the second joint government statement on the rights of intersex persons was delivered on behalf of 52 States.
Mozambique has accepted 236 of the 266 recommendations received. While this highlights a slight progress since their last Universal Periodic Review (UPR), the human rights situation in the country still needs large structural improvements.
During the adoption of the outcome of its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the 48th session of the Human Rights Council, Niger manifested its willingness to cooperate with human rights mechanisms by accepting almost all the recommendations. However, more efforts for an efficient implementation remain necessary.
Despite Sierra Leone's acceptance of recommendations aiming to improve civil society’s space, cases of reprisals against human rights defenders are still reported.
The DRC has noticeably improved the protection of human rights in the Kasaï region but progress remains slow and action is still needed towards transitional justice and the protection of defenders in this region.
LGBTQ communities in Namibia and those defending their rights remain targeted, suffering various forms of discrimination, stigmatisation and violence. It is time for the Namibian government to take action and decriminalise same-sex sexual relations, revise laws discriminating against, and take measures to address violence in, LGBT communities.
Human rights organisations* urge the immediate and unconditional release of Egyptian human rights defender Mohamed El-Baqer, who completes today two years in arbitrary detention.
Human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia continue to face an increasing crackdown including arbitrary detention, ill-treatment, and medical and administrative neglect. The UN Human Rights Council must take action by establishing a monitoring and reporting mechanism on the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia.
Ten organisations renew their call for the immediate and unconditional release of Egyptian human rights defender Abdulrahman Tarek as he receives Index on Censorship’s Freedom of Expression Award
Despite the Burundian government’s efforts, the human rights situation in the country remains a matter of concern. During the presentation of its report, the Commission of Inquiry underscored the necessity to take more significative actions to pave the way towards sociopolitical stabilization and democracy.