17 May 2016 - Statement by the United Nations Theme Group on HIC, AIDS and Human Rights, Trinidad and Tobago:
World over, many people continue to endure stigma and discrimination from dominant groups because they are different. We continue to witness in modern times the decimation of peoples and their culture based on religion and ethnicity. So too, our lack of understanding and intolerance for differences based on sexual orientation and gender identity, continue to result in hardships for those affected and their families. If we are willing, scientificevidence based on studies of these matters could assist us to better understand these issues. Too often, young people who are Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) face rejection by their families and communities who do not understand and disapprove of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Frequently they are bullied by classmates and teachers, resulting in some students dropping out of school. Sometimes they may even be refused school admission or expelled on the basis of their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity and are, therefore, denied their education.
The stigma and discrimination that children and young adults face can have a detrimental impact on their self-esteem, and are associated with higher rates of depression and suicide than their peers, according to Human Rights experts. In some countries, young LGBTI persons are subjected to harmful ‘therapies’ intended to ‘modify’ their orientation or identity. Such therapies are unethical, unscientific and ineffective and tantamount to torture.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights lists thirty entitlements for everyone, everywhere. As UN Secretary-General Ban Ki moon said: “We cannot tolerate picking and choosing rights in a modern society a society where diversity is celebrated; a society where everyone, no matter where they live or whom they love, is able to live in peace and security; a society where everyone can contribute to the health and well-being of their community”.