Media Center



November 28, 2005 - Washington, DC

The General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS), meeting in June 2005, recognized “the existence of groups of people who are victims of longstanding and contemporary manifestations of racism, discrimination, and intolerance.” To address the particular manifestations of discrimination and violence as they are experienced in the Americas, the General Assembly created a new Working Group to prepare a draft Inter-American Convention Against Racism and All Forms of Discrimination and Intolerance.
National and regional courts, human rights treaty bodies and experts have already recognized that individuals are routinely targeted for violence or discrimination on the basis of their real or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. As a result, the organizations listed here urge the Working Group to include the following text to specifically address these three points:
• The Compound Effect of Multiple Forms of Sexuality Based Discrimination and Exclusion

The resolution creating the OAS Working Group to draft the Convention recognizes the “diverse forms of discrimination that affect the countries in the Hemisphere” and encourages the Working Group to consider specific manifestations of racism, discrimination and intolerance “not addressed in existing instruments on the subject.” This framework provides an important opportunity to build on the Santiago Plan of Action that was first adopted in December 2000 by governments participating in the Regional Conference of the Americas in preparation for the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance.
The Santiago Plan of Action recognized that multiple forms of discrimination infuse the complex experience of racism in the Hemisphere. The participating governments were concerned that “certain persons and groups may experience other forms of discrimination on the basis of their gender, age, disability, genetic condition, language, religion, sexual orientation, economic status or social origin, and that in addition they may experience acts of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.” The governments went on to note that “special attention should be given to the elaboration of strategies, policies and programmes, which may include affirmative action, for those persons who may be the victims of multiple forms of discrimination.”
In the Americas, as in all other regions, variously impermissible forms of direct and indirect discrimination and exclusion are the result of complex social constructs that demand targeted legal and public policy responses. Individuals across the Americas face similar patterns of discrimination, exclusion and violence, but they experience those violations in different ways and with different consequences. Racial, national, ethnic, religious, linguistic and other minorities, some of whom may already be struggling against intolerable levels of social exclusion, often face even more pronounced forms of discrimination or violence when their gender expression or sexual orientation do not conform to the social and cultural norms of their community.
Multiple forms of sexuality based discrimination must be carefully articulated in the draft Convention. This language must incorporate a flexible understanding of the evolving capacities of societies to construct new mechanisms of social exclusion as well as their capacity to encompass new forms and manifestation of personal expression. And it must confront deeply held stereotypes involving individuals, and the associations representing them, who are asserting their sexuality based human rights.
• Gendered Nature of Violence

Human rights experts have long recognized the uniquely gendered nature and consequences of certain categories of human rights violations. When combined with other forms of discrimination, the cumulative effects of multiple forms of gender discrimination, exclusion or violence are particularly invidious. The UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women has noted, for example, that any comprehensive gender analysis “requires examination of the effects of gender, the effects of race and the effects of gender and race factors combined on the form [human rights] violations take, the context in which they occur, their consequences and the availability and accessibility of remedies to victims.”
Considering the gendered nature of violence from a slightly different perspective, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture has also noted “that a considerable proportion of the incidents of torture carried out against members of sexual minorities suggests that they are often subjected to violence of a sexual nature, such as rape or sexual assault in order to ‘punish’ them for transgressing gender barriers or for challenging predominant conceptions of gender roles.” The Special Rapporteur has also concluded that “members of sexual minorities are disproportionately subjected to torture and other forms of ill-treatment, because they fail to conform to socially constructed gender expectations. Indeed, discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity may often contribute to the process of the dehumanization of the victim, which is often a necessary condition for torture and ill-treatment to take place.”
It is no surprise, then, that the European Court of Human Rights also recognized several years ago the affirmative aspect of this right, noting that “gender identity is one of the most intimate areas of a person’s private life,” and that a fundamental aspect of the right to respect for private life includes “the right to gender identity and personal development.” Both the gendered nature of violence, together with the affirmative right of everyone to gender identity and personal development, should be explicitly recognized in the text of the Convention.
• Discrimination and Exclusion Based on HIV/AIDS Status

The HIV/AIDS epidemic is undermining the global human rights promotion and protection framework, and reversing some important human rights advances that are now threatened by the spread of the disease. This is already starkly apparent in the area of women’s rights, although it applies equally to other vulnerable or marginalized social groups and covers the full range of economic, social and cultural as well as civil and political rights.
The AIDS epidemic knows no social, geographic, or sexual boundaries. Societies that impute preconceived prejudices about HIV status or exposure to various minority populations risk the safety of their communities and the capacity of their medical establishments to respond rationally and effectively to the epidemic. So while many individuals face multiple forms of discrimination or violence based both on their real or perceived HIV status and their race, national origin or their ethnicity, or on their HIV status and their failure to conform to socially constructed gender expectations or orientations, the tendency to confuse or conflate these different but interrelated forms of discrimination and abuse frustrates the larger effort to elaborate strategies, policies and programmes to respond to the epidemic. And it simultaneously undermines the unique rights of those of any sexual orientation who are living with HIV/AIDS.
While cases of discrimination based on HIV status are often compounded with discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, these interrelated forms of discrimination and exclusion should not be conflated in the draft of the Convention.
• Call for Action
Because discrimination and violence directed against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons constitute human rights violations that must be identified and understood wherever they occur, the undersigned organizations support the specific inclusion of appropriate legal protections against such discrimination and violence in the draft text of the new Inter-American Convention Against Racism and All Forms of Discrimination and Intolerance.
Organizaciones internacionales de la región OEA:
Action Canada for Population and Development (ACPD)
ARC International, Canada
Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID), Canada
Campaña Regional 28 de septiembre día por la despenalización del aborto en América Latina y el Caribe
Campaña por una Convención Interamericana de los Derechos Sexuales y los Derechos Reproductivos
Center for Women’s Global Leadership
Coalición Centroamericana y el Caribe de Organizaciones Gay y otros HSH
Concertación Interamericana de Mujeres -
Activistas por los Derechos Humanos de las Mujeres (CIMA)
Fondo Centroamericano de Mujeres
Global Rights
International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC)
International Lesbian and Gay Law Association
International Service for Human Rights
International Women’s Human Rights Law Clinic, City University of New York, School of Law
International Working Group on Sexuality and Sexual Policy
Red de Salud de las Mujeres Latinoamericanas y del Caribe (RSMLAC)
• Organizaciones nacionales y locales de la región OEA:
• Área Género del INECIP, Regional Córdoba, Argentina
• Aireana Grupo por los Derechos de las Lesbianas, Paraguay
Artemisa, Grupo Interdisciplinario en Género, Sexualidad, Juventud y Derechos Humanos, México
Articulação Brasileira de Lésbicas
Asociación de Comunidades Indígenas – ACOIN, Argentina
Asociación por la igualdad de los derechos GLTTB (APID) – Mar del Plata, Argentina
Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network
Centro de Investigación y Promoción para América Central de Derechos Humanos (CIPAC)
Centro para el Desarrollo e Integración de la Mujer CEDIM, Perú
CISCSA, Córdoba, Argentina
Colectiva de Lesbianas Liberadas –Lesbiradas, Guatemala
Colectivo Contranatural, Lima, Perú
Colectivo La Libélula AC, Monterrey, México
Colimenses Asertivos por la salud sexual, Colima, México
Comité Léscibo-Gay de Occidente A.C., Guadalajara, México
Comité Humanitario de Esfuerzo Compartido Contra el SIDA, A.C., Guadalajara, México
Comunidad Gay Sampedrana para la Salud Integral, San Pedro Sula, Honduras
Comunidad Homosexual, Argentina
Coordinadora Universitaria por la Diversidad Sexual (CUDS), Chile
Desalambrando, abriendo el camino para salir del segundo closet, Programa de Prevención, Atención e Investigación de Violencia entre Lesbianas, Buenos Aires, Argentina
El Closet de Sor Juana, México
Foro de ONG´s que Luchan contra la Discriminación en Argentina
Fundación Arcoiris, México
Fundación Puntos de Encuentro, Managua, Nicaragua
Gender Public Advocacy Coalition, USA
Grupo CD4 (Organización contra el SIDA) Cuernavaca, Morelos
Grupo Cisne, Lima, Perú
Grupo de Acción Gay, Lésbico y Transgénero (GAGLT), Paraguay
Grupo DeSIDA por la Vida, Buenos Aires, Argentina
HIJOS por la Identidad y la Justicia contra el Olvido, Argentina
Instituto AMMA Psique e Negritude, São Paulo, Brasil
Instituto de Desarrollo Afro – IDEAFRO, Argentina
La Casa del Encuentro, Espacio feminista social y cultural – Espacio de Lesbianas feministas para todas las Mujeres
Licosida, Entre Ríos, Argentina
Maestría en Genero y Desarrollo de la Universidad Nacional de Asunción, Paraguay
Mesa Nacional de Trabajo de Lesbianas, Gays, Bisexuales y Transgeneristas de Colombia
Mujeres por la Democracia, Paraguay
Organización Ecuatoriana de Mujeres Lesbianas
Organización de Transexuales Masculinos de Rancagua, Chile
Protección legal de las Minorías Sexuales PLMS, Venezuela
Red Nacional de Trabajadoras/es de la Información y Comunicación RED – ADA, Bolivia
Servicios Integrales para la Mujer - SI Mujer, Nicaragua
Traveschile A.D.S.I.P., Agrupación por los derechos sexuales integrales de las personas
Unión Afirmativa de Venezuela (UNAV)
Vida-integración, desarrollo-amor – grupo de lesbianas, Lima, Perú
Organizaciones de otras regiones:
Alternative Law Forum, India
Centrum Profilaktyki i Edukacji Spolecznej Parasol, Poland
China HIV/AIDS International Network, People’s Republic of China
Gaya Nusantara, Indonesia
Gays without Borders, Thailand
Homosexuelle Initiative, Austria
International Initiative for Visibility of Queer Muslims, Bosnia-Herzegovina
Japanese Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS, Japan
Korean Gay Men’s Human Rights Group, Republic of Korea
Korean Sexual Minority Culture and Rights Center, Republic of Korea
Korean Women’s Sexual Minority Network, Republic of Korea
Pro Gay, Philippines
Sexual Minority Committee of the Korea Democratic Labor Party, Republic of Korea
Siberian Human Rights Network
Sisters in Islam, Malaysia
Solidarity and Action Against the HIV Infection in India, India
Young African Advocates for Rights, Nigeria