Press Release

The IACHR creates Rapporteurship to address issues of Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, Gender Expression, and Body Diversity

November 25, 2013

Washington D.C. – On November 8, 2013, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) decided to create a Rapporteurship on the Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Persons (LGBTI) to give specialized attention to the work of the Inter-American Commission on the promotion and protection of the rights of LGBTI persons in the Americas. The Rapporteurship on the Rights of LGBTI persons will commence functioning on February 1, 2014, and will continue the work of the LGBTI Unit.

For several years now, the Commission has been receiving troubling information on the many forms of violence and discrimination faced by persons in the Americas, because of their perceived or actual sexual orientations, gender identities, and/or gender expressions, or because their bodies differ from what is considered female or male. To address these human rights violations, the IACHR created the LGBTI Unit in November 2011.

Since its installation, on February 15, 2012, the Unit has focused its efforts on four lines of work: (i) preparing thematic, regional or country reports on the situation of LGBTI persons in the Americas; (ii) developing standards on the interpretation of the inter-American human rights instruments with respect to sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and body diversity through the individual petition and case system; (iii) providing technical advice and input to states and political bodies of the Organization of American States; and (iv) monitoring the human rights situation of LGBTI persons and promoting the visibility of violations against their human rights.

Under this mandate, the Unit has held six meetings of experts on the areas of health, violence and access to justice, employment, political participation, families and interpersonal relationships, and education and culture, in addition to a series of promotional activities in various countries in the region, including a conference on stigma and discrimination against LGBTI persons in the Caribbean, held in Barbados, and a high-level panel of publicly elected officials who are openly gay, lesbian and trans in Colombia. The Unit has also prepared approximately 30 press releases, most of which have focused on highlighting the situation of violence and discrimination faced by trans, gay and lesbian persons, or those perceived as such. Finally, the IACHR has carried out various training activities in the region to promote the use of the inter-American human rights system by LGBTI human rights defenders and organizations.

In the context of the preparation of a regional thematic report on the situation of violence against LGBTI persons, the IACHR has issued a questionnaire available at the IACHR’s website. The IACHR reiterates its invitation to all stakeholders, including all OAS Members States, civil society organizations and interested individuals to submit their responses to this questionnaire until December 20, 2013.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 94/13