Read by Sabin Singh, on behalf of Hivos
Thank you Mr. President,
It is my pleasure to speak on behalf of Hivos, Asian Pacific Resource & Research Centre for Women (ARROW), Rutgers and other members of the Right Here Right Now consortium. We agree with the Independent Expert that states need to know the facts about violence and discrimination against LGBTI people, young people in particular. Getting the facts right on the lived realities of LGBTI people is a crucial first step. Too often we are not heard, simply because we are young, because of who we love, and because of who we are.
As the report of the independent expert shows, the socio-economic position of LGBTI people is dire. While the data currently at hand is incomplete, we know from working with our local partners that especially young LGBTI face loneliness and homelessness. To get a proper understanding of what young LGBTI people around the world experience, we recommend consulting LGBTI youth, so they may inform discussions and policies affecting their own lives. Creating a safe space, making sure data is geographically covered and there is equal representation of all groups. Keeping in mind people may not identify as ‘gay’ or ‘transgender’ and use different words in their own languages. In Nepal, we have many diversities and we should keep in mind LGBTI living in remote areas.
While good data are relevant to assess violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, they don’t necessarily guarantee for improved policy and state protection of LGBTI communities. The fact that existing evidence is ignored by countries elucidates this. To end dogma’s, myths and stereotypes and to be able to involve the broader population in ending these, states need to register cases of discrimination on a do no harm basis. It is important to understand the (cultural) drivers of stigmatization and hate speech, for example by collecting data on such cases through social media listening and analysis of online discourse.
While datasets can be used for support, awareness and protection, the other side of the coin is that they enable surveillance, targeted aggression and discrimination. Therefore, it is essential to know who collects the data, what systems are they stored on, which algorithms are they based on, who has access to the data et cetera. Especially in countries that criminalize consensual same-sex relations the dangers may trump positive effects. Responsible and human rights based data policies and approaches are crucial for the protection of communities. Civil society can play a critical role here as protector and data broker between LGBTI communities and state actors. Where structural barriers exist, such as criminalising laws and regulations, we request states to take away these obstacles. If we are to leave no one behind, as is the ambition of the 2030 agenda, states need to live up to their obligations to protect, fulfil and promote the human rights of all.
We ask states to support the renewal of the mandate of the Independent Expert and to send a clear message that violence and discrimination against people of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities is not tolerated. Ending criminalisation takes away one of the root causes of violence and discrimination. It is a start for states to live up to their obligations to protect and fulfill the basic human rights of all their people.