A- A A+

Understanding of LGBT realities ‘non-existent’ in most countries, says UN expert

Policymakers in most parts of the world are taking decisions in the dark when it comes to sexual orientation and gender identity, an independent UN human rights expert said on Wednesday 12 June 2019. 

In a statement issued ahead of presenting his latest report to the Human Rights Council later this month, Victor Madrigal-Borloz urged States to collect more data in an effort to understand the root causes of violence which is often routinely directed towards Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people in societies across the world. 

“States must adequately address this scourge through public policy, access to justice, law reform or administrative actions,” said Mr. Madrigal-Borloz. “In most contexts, policymakers are taking decisions in the dark, left only with personal preconceptions and prejudices.” 

Victor Madrigal-Borloz

Clear information about the realities as lived by most LGBT people are at best, little understood, “incomplete and fragmented”, said the UN Independent Expert on Protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, “but in most countries it is simply non-existent". 

 “My findings show that barriers created by criminalization, pathologization, demonization and stigmatization, hinder accurate estimates regarding the world population” which is affected, he said. “Maintaining such a level of ignorance without seeking appropriate evidence is tantamount to criminal negligence.”  

 The expert said that data collection efforts are already underway in many parts of the world and have supported assessments of the situation of LGBT persons in various areas of life, including their relative safety, well-being, health, education and employment.  

“However, many other areas still lack data and remain unexplored, for example, the concerns of ageing LGBT people and intersections with disability, racism and xenophobia”, he noted, adding that where States criminalize certain forms of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression, fully effective data collection is impossible: “I have received multiple accounts of data being used for surveillance, harassment, entrapment, arrest and persecution by government officials in such contexts”, he added. 

The rapporteur called on States to “design and implement comprehensive data collection procedures to assess the type, prevalence, trends and patters of violence and discrimination against LGBT persons. When doing so, States should always respect the overriding ‘do no harm’ principle and follow a human rights-based approach to prevent the misuse of collected data,” concluded the expert. 

( this story was originally posted on UN News)

More Information:

Report of the IE SOGI, Victor Madrigal-Borloz - Preparation of thematic report and submissions received

UN and LGBTIQ rights


Press statement by UNSDG for Latin America and the Caribbean on the occasion of the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia.

PANAMA CITY, 17 May 2019—In recent years, Latin America and the Caribbean have made significant progress in protecting and recognizing the rights of people with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities, gender expressions and sexual characteristics. This progress is worthy of celebration and brings us closer to the path laid out by the ambitious Sustainable Development Agenda, which is anchored by the principle of leaving no one behind.

Some of the region’s most important achievements in the promotion of rights include the recognition of civil unions between people of the same sex1 , equal marriage2 and the recognition of gender identity for trans people3 . In terms of protection, some countries in the region have made progress in adopting anti-discrimination laws, due to the evidence regarding the prevalence of discrimination, violence and hate crimes experienced by people in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community.

On the other hand, the Resolution to address the causes of disparities in access and use of health services by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, approved in September 2013 by the Ministers of Health of the Americas, recognizes that stigma and discrimination have real and adverse effects on the health of LGBTI people4 .

While these advances are important, we must recognize that progress has not been the same in all countries and there are still important challenges around ending violence and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people. In the region, nine countries still criminalize same-sex relationships, with penalties that include life imprisonment.

Prejudice, discrimination and violence against LGBTI people have a broad impact on human rights and public health, including the ability of LGBTI people to access justice, protection, healthcare, education, work and other rights inherent to citizens.

Laws that criminalize consensual relationships between adults of the same sex, that impose discriminatory restrictions on public discussion of the rights of LGBTI persons or the work of LGBTI organizations and human rights defenders, violate international human rights standards. There is no progress in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals while there are citizens whose rights and opportunities are restricted.

Public prejudice against LGBTI people can never justify such laws, nor restrictive measures. Rather, it requires states to take specific measures to protect LGBTI persons from violence and discrimination, to foster a context of respect and to overcome such prejudices through public education.

Recently, the Inter-American Human Rights System reiterated, through the Advisory Opinion of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, that sexual orientation and gender identity are categories protected by the American Convention on Human Rights. Therefore, any rule, act or discriminatory practice based on these characteristics of people is prohibited.

The defense of human rights, without discrimination, including on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, is one of the pillars of the United Nations. Under this mandate, the United Nations Sustainable Development Group for Latin America and the Caribbean calls on States to comply with their human rights obligations, without any type of discrimination.

1 Chile and Ecuador 

2 Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica and some states in Mexico

3 Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia

4Resolution CD52/18: Addressing the causes of disparities in health service access and utilization for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans persons.


ILO Director-General calls for an end to discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, saying it is “a factor leading to violence and harassment in the world of work."

The ILO joins the international community to mark this International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. Standing together under the banner of Alliances for Solidarity , we highlight the importance of human rights for all, irrespective of actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. 

Discrimination against lesbian, gay, bi, trans and intersex (LGBTI) people doesn’t just hurt them; it hurts families, companies and entire countries. The ILO’s Constitution affirms that all human beings “have the right to pursue both their material well-being and their spiritual development in conditions of freedom and dignity, of economic security and equal opportunity”. Each of us has a part to play in ensuring that this aspiration becomes a reality for all workers, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics.

read the full story


UNFPA - Statement for International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia 2018

Statement for International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia 2018 (17 May 2018)

On this International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia, UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, stands with all members of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) communities worldwide.

Every person, without any distinction on any grounds, has an equal right to live free from violence, persecution, discrimination and stigma of any kind. Human rights are universal. Cultural, religious and moral practices and beliefs, and social attitudes must not be invoked to justify human rights violations against any group, including LGBTI persons.

While welcoming increasing efforts in many countries to protect the rights of LGBTI people, UNFPA remains seriously concerned that around the world, millions of LGBTI individuals, those perceived as LGBTI, and their families face widespread human rights abuse and violence. This is cause for alarm – and action.

As an employer, UNFPA commits to fostering a workplace where LGBTI employees can be themselves and work productively, with the full support and respect of all their colleagues.

UNFPA stands ready to support United Nations Member States and other stakeholders as they work to tackle head-on the many challenges facing LGBTI citizens. As a global community, we must respect, protect, promote and fulfil the human rights of every LGBTI person.


Executive Director



UN Response to LGBTI rights in the Caribbean

Far too often young people in the Caribbean become victims of harassment and violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity. UN specialists have indicated a higher incidence of depression, academic failure and sucide among young LGBTI persons who are victims of intolerance. Ignorance of the difference between gender identity and sexual orientation in addition to stereotyping of male and female behaviour often result in ostracism and abuse of young adults by teachers, leaders, family members and their peers. In countries like Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago discrimination ends in violence and murder.

Caribbean states have in most cases taken little or no action to protect LGBTI persons rather put more radical laws in place that punish same sex relations with life imprisonment. Some victims of abuse have reported that police will not document threats or assault. They often ridicule and also meter out some form of violence against the victims. Family members have been known to force their children to undergo ‘exorcisms’ , marriages without consent, corrective rape and other rituals of conversion which according to the United Nations Secretary-General are tantamount to torture. Parents or relatives often throw out LGBTI on to the streets to live.

While some find the determination and support to go on and others end up hungry, homeless often living under bridges or in run down shacks and become victims of illicit drug traffickers and adults who exploit them for sex and/or cheap labour. 

Charles Radcliffe - UN Representative assigned to lead the UN's Free and Equal campaign

Charles Radcliffe

UN Representative assigned to lead the UN's Free and Equal campaign



UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon: 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

Ban Ki-moon
UN Secretary-General (2007-2016)

Positive Action:

Civil society based organisations like CAISO, SASOD, The Silver Lining and others continue to advocate for legislative reform to recognise and include LGBTI persons under the social security blanket. Other initiatives include presentations to youth about bullying in schools and a safe space for victims of abuse.

A number of western missions like the European Union, Australia and United Kingdom have also taken positive steps to fund human rights based projects including LGBTI rights. USA and Canada continue to monitor and report on human rights development. One of the most positive developments in Trinidad and some other countries is the voice of everyday people, who take to social media platforms to support their friends or relatives who are LGBTI. Families are slowly coming out of the woodwork to speak up against discrimination and hate.


 What is the UN response ?

United Nations in the Caribbean is cross cutting but yet a cohesive response to delivering on the agenda of equal rights and dignity for LGBTI people:


Outreach: UN reaches out to communities and organisations for meaningful partnerships to educate , share knowledge and encourage open dialogue.

Advocacy: has been working with a number of partners in civil society to advance the cause of equal right and dignity for all persons and to build momentum for positive action

Funding : Some UN offices provide special funding for projects that advance human rights and development from an inclusive point of view

Technical: Specialised UN offices provide technical advise and support for governments and state bodies to facilitate policy development and inclusive practices and reporting on human rights delivery.

Academic: UN knowledge centres and libraries across the regions are legitimate sources of information about LGBTI people, their rights and other related issues.

Training: UN agencies and offices provide training for media; state officials and departments on acceptable standards and benchmarks for equality, respect and dignity.




[toggle state="closed" title=More information:"]

2016 Joint United Nations Latin America and Caribbean Statement on the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia 
The Resident Coordinator’s office in Trinidad and Tobago, early 2016 hosted an webinar/dialogue on LGBTI rights;
In 2014 UNIADS and partners conducted surveys on MSM and continued in 2016 to push for ending stigma
UNFPA continues to provide guidance and advocacy for rights of sex workers and  support for men who have sex with men.
UNIC continues with Human Rights education, promotion of the Free and Equal global campaign; engaged and encouraged dialogue during 2016 Model United Nations training session; 
High Commissioner for Human Rights office provides assistance to victims of abuse and technical support for the government. 
High commissioner for Refugees includes in its work the rights of LGBTI refugees and assylum seekers[/toggle]
Subscribe to this RSS feed


Email: unic.portofspain@unic.org 

Telephone: 1(868) 623 8438 or 623 4813

Fax: 1 (868) 623 4332 


2nd Floor Bretton Hall, 16 Victoria Avenue, 

Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago