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UN Expert: Criminalization of Same Sex Unions Violates Human Rights Law and Must End


FILE - A same-sex marriage supporter reacts at Dublin Castle in Dublin, Ireland, May 23, 2015.

U.N. Independent Expert on Protection against Violence and Discrimination based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, Victor Madrigal-Borloz, is calling for the global elimination of laws that criminalize same-sex unions by 2030. His report has been submitted to the U.N. Human Rights Council.

Currently, 69 countries criminalize homosexuality or some forms of gender identity, nearly half are in Africa. Among them are a handful of countries that apply the death sentence for same sex sexual acts. They include Brunei, Iran, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and northern Nigeria.

U.N. independent Expert, Victor Madrigal-Borloz, says as of today, 2,000 million people live in criminalized environments. He says there is no justification under international human rights law for maintaining criminalized legislation in relation to sexual orientation or gender identity.

"My work has produced abundant evidence to the effect that these criminalizing provisions, even when they are not applied, they create a context, a context that is hostile to the existence of LGBT persons and that is also conducive to blackmail and to significant violence affecting the everyday lives of these persons,” Madrigal-Borloz said.

Madrigal-Borloz notes some countries have taken measures to dismantle homophobic laws. He notes the extraordinary action taken by India’s Supreme Court, which by the stroke of a pen freed more than one billion people from the threat of imprisonment based on their sexual orientation.

He says other countries that have decriminalized their legislation against homosexuality include Botswana, Trinidad and Tobago, Belize, Mozambique, and Angola.

Madrigal-Borloz is concerned at the adoption of legislation by countries that limit the rights and freedoms of LGBTQ people. He is critical of the law passed by Hungary earlier this month banning educational materials and programs for children that allegedly promote homosexuality and transgender identity.

"I see nothing in the needs of a democratic society that would justify limiting that freedom and this is the basis for my concern as I expressed it to the Hungarian State already months ago when this legislation began to take shape under that public policy,” Madrigal-Borloz said.

On the contrary, the U.N. Independent Expert says comprehensive sexual and gender education in schools will likely lead to reduced levels of violence and discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.

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