LGBTI Human Rights condition worldwide


While all 54 African countries have signed the UN Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, these international treaties have not generally translated into in-practice human rights protection for men who have sex with men (MSM), women who have sex with women (WSW) and LGBTI persons. With the exceptions of South Africa - which provides protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in its Constitution and which currently allows same-sex marriage – and Namibia – the labour code of which prohibits anti-gay discrimination – laws criminalizing same-gender sexual activity exist in more than half of African countries, including Botswana, Kenya, Uganda and Zimbabwe. In some countries, self-defining as gay or lesbian is frequently punished as a crime, when in reality no legal basis for criminality exists, such that local police often use public indecency, debauchery, or vagrancy laws as tools to detain or imprison such persons. Prejudice and discrimination are experienced by most MSM and WSW in Africa, resulting in: extortion, loss of employment and housing, reduced access to health care and educational opportunities, verbal and physical attacks, arbitrary arrest and detention, and in the most extreme cases, judicial or extra-judicial execution. Those who hide their same-sex orientations are forced to lead lives characterized by secrecy, denial and ostracism. The situation of LGBTI persons in Africa is further complicated by the reluctance of many African human rights organizations to address human rights violations against LGBTI persons, as well as by the statements made by some African heads of State that further enforce State-sponsored homophobia.
Asia and Pacific
Many countries in Asia and the Pacific have instituted legislation criminalising same-gender sexual activity and relationships. Transgendered people in these regions are often ostracised by their communities and threatened by their families and acquaintances. State-sponsored violence in response to changes to gender, while less common, may also occur. In most cases, LGBTI people are forced to lead double lives, making them vulnerable to extortions and threats by local authorities. Additionally, in some countries people may be arrested for “promotion” of homosexuality. For instance, last year in China, between 50 and 60 people were arrested for alleged homosexuality, due solely to their public promotion of sexual education.
Middle East and North Africa
In this region, the everyday lives of LGBTI persons are dominated by violations of their human and civil rights based on identity and sexual orientation, including: daily acts of discrimination and violence; arrests, incarceration – including for life – and awarding of the death penalty; and the murder of individuals, groups and entire communities . In Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and the United Arab Emirates, homosexuality is punishable by death according to the law. Nevertheless,  it is in Iraq where the situation is most critical in this country, even though the penal code does not penalize same-gender sexual activity, squadron attacks on and the torture and killing of LGBTI persons have been reported on numerous occasions. A recent example is represented by the case, reported by the international press and media, of young “emo” (emotional) people killed in Iraq due to their assumed homosexuality. Militias that committed the murders are thought to have acted following a “list” of names of people accused of having an eccentric attitude and/or being excessively feminine, and therefore allegedly homosexual. At least 58 youth have been murdered during recent months and this number is expected to increase.
For LGBTI persons in Europe violations of their human and civil rights based on gender identity and sexual orientation are common in day-to-day life. Although every European country has decriminalized homosexuality, severely homophobic attitudes and actions by individuals, institutions, and political and religious leaders remain common, and oftentimes prompt  verbal violence and physical attacks against individuals, groups and entire communities. Incidents of arrest and imprisonment for homosexuality continue to be reported in many countries within this region.
On a regional level, LGBTI persons in the Americas may experience violations of civil and human rights based on sexual identity and orientation, and in certain countries, they may be legally penalized for their same-sex relationships. Whereas a number of countries, including Chile, Columbia, Equator, Mexico, Nicaragua and Puerto Rico, have decriminalized homosexuality, others, including Argentina and Honduras, continue to criminalize and repress expression of LGBTI identity. Human rights violations against LGBTI persons are frequently reported in Barbados and Jamaica, where the murder of gay individuals has become too commonplace to be considered newsworthy and where such homicides are altogether ignored by the local police force.
North America
In North America, discrimination and violence based on gender identity, including attacks against LGBTI individuals and civil rights organizations, does occur, albeit less frequently than in other regions. The United States documents the most brutal attack against its LGBTI communities and keeps track of incidents of serious discrimination and violence based on sexual identity and orientation.

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