Include SOGI in UN resolution on torture

The importance of addressing sexual orientation and gender identity in the resolution on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment tabled at the UN General Assembly.

By Karoline Barkvoll Holstad

[Download letter to Danish government: Anbefaling til regeringens torturresolution til FNs Generalforsamling ]

LGBT Denmark argued in a letter to the Danish government, that the government should address sexual orientation and gender identity in its resolution on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, which will be tabled at the UN’s General Assembly 70th session. The letter was delivered in collaboration with three other Danish organisations addressing LGBT issues: The Danish Family Planning Association, the Danish AIDS Foundation and LGBT Asylum.

In his report from 2015, the special rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment stressed that LGBTI children are at the heightened risk to experience torture and sexual abuse during detainment as well as being vulnerable to cruel inhuman degrading treatment. The special rapporteur furthermore addressed that LGBTI persons are vulnerable to ill-treatment or torture in his report from 2013.

Our recommendation to the government, moreover addressed the importance of pointing out the groups that are of heightened risk to suffer from torture or inhuman treatment, as the resolution has the intention of pointing out how the fight against torture and inhuman treatment and punishment can be fought.

Due to these reports and the special rapporteur’s recommendations to all states to respond to the special needs of groups that are particularly vulnerable to torture and ill-treatment, LGBT Denmark and the other LGBT related organisations, recommended the Danish government to include in the resolution the following paragraph:

Encourages States to ensure that the fight against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment takes into regard aspects concerning gender, sexual orientation and gender identity and disabilities in order to address the groups most vulnerable to ill-treatment or torture;

The group also recommended the government to include a notion of resolution 27/L27/rev1/Human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity” from the UN’s Human Rights Council.

The UN institutions and many of its member states have taken important steps towards fighting discrimination against LGBTI persons as well as stressing the human rights of LGBTI persons. To support this positive development, member states ought to continue addressing the human rights of LGBTI persons and the discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity taking place in every continent. Member states can do this amongst other by addressing this in relevant resolutions, as for example the resolution on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

In this specific case, stressing that LGBTI persons are of heightened risk of suffering from torture and inhuman treatment, can help create a common understanding that torture and inhuman treatment is unacceptable regardless of whether torture or ill-treatment is based on the persons’ disability, gender or their sexual orientation or gender identity.

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