Photo: Victor Madrigal-Borloz presenting his report before the Third Committee. Credit: Screen capture from UN Web Tv.


UNGA78: Victor Madrigal-Borloz's final report highlights colonialism's impact on LGBT rights

On 26 October 2023, Victor Madrigal-Borloz presented his last report as the UN Independent Expert on sexual orientation and gender identity to the General Assembly’s Third Committee. On his final day, he also released four crucial statements.

In presenting his report, Madrigal-Borloz explored the impact that colonialism has on pre-colonial communities. The report notes that colonialism disrupted pre-colonial communities that globally embraced sexual and gender diversity, particularly through non-binary entities that played advisory, spiritual and ceremonial roles. Colonialism under religious, secular and hybrid narratives and justifications imposed a binary and restrictive approach on these communities.

In maintaining their colonial regimes, including after gaining independence, States often criminalise gender and sexual diversity including through restrictive laws that, for instance, criminalise same sex consensual intimacy. One example raised in the report is the recently passed ‘Anti-Homosexuality Act’ that not only criminalises LGBT persons for existing, but also criminalises human rights defenders promoting and supporting LGBTQ communities

‘The draft Ghanan “Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill” follows the oppressive principles of the Ugandan law,’ said ISHR’s Tess McEvoy. ‘We are concerned by what appears to be a trend of the consideration of analogous laws across the region – laws which directly impact the enjoyment of human rights by LGBTIQ+ communities and those who defend their rights, who will be left to face the disproportionate penalties included in these laws,’ McEvoy added.  

In closing his final report presentation to the Third Committee, Madrigal-Borloz expressed his concern for the fact that LGBT people or people who are merely perceived as LGBT can be criminalised in 64 jurisdictions, and condemned to death in 11. He concluded with these words: ‘as long as you continue to deny your lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and diverse siblings the protection that they require, your legitimacy to speak of human rights, democracy, respect and dignity is unavoidably compromised’. 

ISHR would like to express its sincere gratitude to the Independent Expert for the momentous achievements made as his time as mandate holder comes to an end. True to form and working to the very last moment, Madrigal-Borloz published four final policy positions on his final day in the mandate:

  1. The need to eliminate discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and sex characteristics in sport
  2. A call on all UN Member States and other stakeholders to take measures to ensure that persons of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities can fully and freely participate in cultural life

  3. The concerning violence, stigma and discrimination that disproportionately impact the human rights of persons with disabilities who also are of diverse sexual orientation and gender identity

  4. The need to address violence and discrimination that impacts older persons who are part of the LGBT community. 
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