Born Free and Equal


LGBTQIA + Health

“Born Free and Equal” (Revised Edition) takes into account developments since 2012, including decisions by the United Nations, and regional and national human rights bodies. It sets out the source and scope of the legal obligations of Member States in respect of the rights of LGBTI people, and also integrates, for the first time, recommendations in respect of the rights of intersex persons. It is designed as a tool for States, to help them better understand the nature of their obligations and the steps required to meet them, as well as for civil society activists, human rights defenders and others seeking to hold Governments to account for breaches of international human rights law.


“So long as people face criminalization, bias and violence based on their sexual orientation, gender identity or sex characteristics, we must redouble our efforts to end these violations.”
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, 25 September 2018

The struggle to bring greater international scrutiny to the human rights plight of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people reached a landmark moment in 2016 with the decision of the United Nations Human Rights Council to create a dedicated special procedures mandate – an Independent Expert on protection from violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The Independent Expert has many tasks, including investigating and reporting on human rights violations against LGBT people, assessing compliance with applicable international human rights instruments in this context, and making recommendations to States and other stakeholders as
appropriate. The mandate builds on the work of existing United Nations human rights mechanisms, including special procedures and treaty bodies, the majority of which have addressed these issues to some extent in the context of their own, respective mandates.


The purpose of this publication is to set out the core obligations that States have towards LGBTI persons, and to describe how United Nations mechanisms have applied international law in these contexts. For more than two decades, United Nations human rights treaty bodies and special procedures have documented violations of the human rights of LGBT, and more recently, intersex people, and analysed State compliance with international human rights law. The sections that follow summarize their findings and advice to help States take the necessary steps to meet their fundamental human rights obligations.

You can access the full booklet “Born free and equal” here.

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