Please identify a selection of national human rights institutions, including human rights commissions and ombudspersons, that have addressed LGBTI rights, and the strategies they have used.
- NHRIs almost unanimously take a universal human rights stance which is
validated and backed up by the UN. This institutional support allows
NHRIs to criticise governments for failing to support certain human
- NHRIs often emphasise that LGBTI rights are contained within existing
UN rights principles, particularly the rights to privacy, health,
life, freedom from violence, non-discrimination and equality. This is
used much more commonly than any strategy suggesting people of diverse
sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) should be treated as a
- Most NHRIs engage with government through annual or thematic reports
which are presented to parliament or ministers. Often, LGBTI rights
are included as a section of a general report.
- Some NHRIs have successfully created coalitions with civil society
organisations to advocate and lobby the government. Some have held
consultations directly with members of the LGBTI community.
- Many NHRIs engage with LGBTI rights through complaints lodged. This is
a reactive rather than proactive strategy, and relies on potential
complainants being aware they have recourse to the NHRI, feeling
capable of lodging a complaint, confident that something will be done,
and assured that they will not experience repercussions.
- Other strategies used by NHRIs include legal support for LGBTI people
bringing cases against the state; reporting back to the UN under the
Universal Periodic Review (UPR) system ; conducting context surveys
and publishing reports; advocating for LGBTI-sensitive facilities; and
capacity and sensitivity training for public services personnel.
- NHRIs approach LGBTI rights largely through legal mechanisms,
particularly in Africa. Arguably, the NHRIs which have also been able
to access and leverage civil society have had more success in creating
- Finally, nearly all reports note that the lived experience for people
of diverse SOGI is overwhelmingly negative and oppressive. Despite
positive policies and the weight of international human rights norms,
people’s day-to-day lives continue to be characterised by stigma,
discrimination and fear.
Browne, E. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex rights in national human rights institutions (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 1098). Governance and Social Development Resource Centre, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK (2014) 12 pp.