Defenders of LGBTQ+ rights are at serious risk, shares United Nations

UN experts Mary Lawlor and Victor Madrigal-Borloz released a joint statement sharing the need for greater protection for rights defenders.

A man standing on a street wrapped in a rainbow flag

A statement issued by UN experts has detailed the serious risks faced by the defenders of LGBTQ+ rights worldwide, while highlighting the necessity to provide urgent recognition and protection to their work.

The statement described how defenders face great danger because of their work. It explained they “are regularly attacked physically, arbitrarily arrested and detained, their homes and offices frequently raided and broken into, and they are the subject of intense smear campaigns.” In many cases, judicial harassment and hate speech from public officials add to the risk.

It also shares that between 2015 and 2019, there were “at least 45 killings of human rights defenders working for sexual orientation and gender identity rights.”

The experts added, “We are both in constant contact with SOGI (sexual orientation and gender identity) rights defenders and we know how life-threatening their peaceful activism is. But not everyone does, and it is time to get the facts straight.”

“Acceptance of the rights of LGBT people remains challenging. Many human rights defenders face severe retaliation for their work, and those who advocate for the rights of LGBT people often face additional risks,” the statement continued.

The joint announcement was released by Mary Lawlor, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, and Víctor Madrigal-Borloz, a UN Independent Expert on Protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

In order to bring greater awareness and recognition to human rights defenders, the UN have created a campaign which will feature interviews with 10 people detailing the work they do for LGBTQ+ people.

Running for 10 weeks from March 30 Diversity in Adversity: Stories from SOGI Rights Defenders will launch with a discussion with Bartosz Staszewski – an activist who protested against the rise of homophobia and ‘hate campaigns’ in Poland by photographing queer people standing outside ‘LGBT Free Zones’. Since creating this series of images, he has been battling multiple court cases and smears from public officials.

Staszewski is also one of the co-founders of the Equality March in Lublin, which has often been met with riots and protests from anti-rights groups.

The series promises to be an essential watch for the LGBTQ+ community and its allies, and you can stay up to date with news of human rights defenders on the social media channels of Special Rapporteur Mary Lawlor here.

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