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On 15 April 2013, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon denounced all forms of violence against individuals based on sexual orientation or gender identity. He spoke of the need to speak out against human rights abuses inflicted against LGBTI citizens, and committed to a global campaign addressing the issue. The United Nations first published a resolution specifically focused on human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity in 2011, and published a subsequent resolution re-emphasising their stance in 2014.

The United Nations, Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association have recently published findings suggesting that:

  • At least 75 UN States criminalise LGBTI citizens in some form (with around six implementing the death penalty as a potential punishment for same-sex sexual activity); and
  • The UN and HRW regularly receives reports of killings, kidnappings, sexual assault and violence or other abusive behaviour committed against LGBTI citizens throughout all regions of the world.

This Library Note looks at the protections operated by the United Nations in respect of LGBTI citizens’ human rights, and highlights the organisation’s findings as to the global extent of violence and discrimination against LGBTI individuals. It also contains information from other organisations, such as the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, and—where appropriate—briefly highlights the LGBTI rights and protections in the United Kingdom.


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