Accessibility links

Breaking News

UN Rights Expert Urges Protection of Transgender People

Victor Madrigal-Borloz, independent expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, briefs journalists at the United Nations in New York, Oct. 25, 2018. (M. Garten/U.N. photo)

The U.N. human rights expert on preventing violence and discrimination against people based on their sexual orientation and gender identity is urging countries to amend laws and policies to protect and include those from this part of society.

"These persons are suffering levels of violence and discrimination that are offensive to human conscience," U.N. Special Rapporteur Victor Madrigal-Borloz told reporters Thursday.

During the presentation of his report to the General Assembly committee that handles human rights, he urged countries that classify certain forms of gender as medical conditions to eliminate that practice, as it further marginalizes a vulnerable segment of the population.

Madrigal-Borloz focused his report on transgender people — those who identify with a different gender than the one assigned to them at birth — noting that most of them are not granted legal recognition of their gender identity.

Basic rights at stake

The special rapporteur warned that when a state does not recognize a person's self-identified gender, it can lead to the denial of many basic rights, including health care, education, employment and access to housing.

His comments came amid reports the Trump administration is looking to roll back recognition and civil rights protections of transgender persons in the United States.

Madrigal-Borloz noted that 71 countries still criminalize diversity in sexual orientation and gender identity. Of them, 20 countries criminalize certain activities or forms of gender identity.

"Clearly, criminalization is creating a situation where persons are not only not protected, but actively persecuted on the basis of their gender identity," he said.

Madrigal-Borloz said human rights advocates continue to receive reports of violence committed against these people, including murder, beatings, kidnappings, sexual assault and hate crimes. Often, when they seek help from police, they are harassed, abused or arrested.

The special rapporteur noted that U.N. conventions forbid discrimination against people based on their sexual orientation and gender identity, just as they prohibit discriminating against people on the basis of race or religion.