Pride Day 2021: IACHR and REDESCA call on States to adopt measures for the employability of LGBTI persons and for protections against discrimination in the workplace

June 28, 2021

Washington, D.C. - On International LGBTI Pride Day, June 28, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and its Special Rapporteurship on Economic, Social, Cultural and Environmental rights (REDESCA) join in the celebration of the history of struggle for equality and non-discrimination of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, non-binary, gender diverse and intersex persons (LGBTI) and call on States to adopt measures for employability and protection against discrimination in the workplace.

The IACHR and REDESCA have received information on the challenges faced by LGBTI persons in the workplace, in terms of access to opportunities and in the conditions in which they carry out their work. The Commission notes that discrimination and lack of job opportunities contribute to sustaining the phenomenon of widespread labor exclusion of LGBTI persons in the region and avoid breaking the cycle of poverty to which they are exposed, particularly due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to available information, these challenges particularly affect trans, non-binary and gender diverse persons.

The IACHR and its REDESCA note that prejudices and discrimination based on the diversity of gender identities and expressions are widespread to a greater or lesser extent throughout the region. They are also present in the workplace, with consequences for the effective enjoyment of human rights by people who identify as LGBTI and those who are perceived as such. In this regard, the Commission and its REDESCA stress that prejudice and discrimination hinder the chances of LGBTI persons to have access to the formal labour market; further, when LGBTI persons enter the labor market, they suffer high degrees of discrimination and harassment at work.

In this regard, the IACHR has received information that LGBTI persons are forced to conform to the heterocisnormative patterns prevailing in the Inter-American region in order to gain acceptance or avoid situations of violence or discrimination in the workplace, and must hide, deny or keep secret their sexual orientation and gender identity either to access or keep a job and avoid situations of harassment, humiliation or reprisals. In addition, LGBTI persons are subjected to mockery, humiliation and derogatory comments that often force them to leave their jobs, without legal recourse against discrimination in this area.

The Commission and its Special Rapporteurship note with particular concern that, in many workplaces in the region, the names and pronouns of trans and gender diverse people are not recognized, especially when legal and administrative protections are lacking, thus preventing them from obtaining IDs that correctly reflect their identities. The Commission has also noted that trans, non-binary and gender diverse persons are often forced to use facilities and wear uniforms or clothing that do not correspond to their gender identity and expression.

The IACHR and its REDESC have pointed out that the human right of working under just, equitable, and satisfactory conditions is widely recognized within the Inter-American System. In this regard, the Commission has emphasized that one of the substantive elements of the right to work implies the free choice or acceptance of work, to follow the vocation of each person and to engage in the activity that reasonably meets a person's life plans. The Commission has also indicated that, in order to guarantee the content of this right, States must regulate and carry out actions aimed at ensuring its effective enforcement, in particular by monitoring and sanctioning violations by public and private employers, which is important in view of the existence of unequal and abuse resulting from precarious labor relations.

The Commission has highlighted some good practices to address the challenges of employability and discrimination against LGBTI persons, including the adoption of anti-discrimination legislation with specific protections based on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, as well as the adoption of quotas of jobs reserved for trans people by the State, local governments and autonomous state agencies. In their various thematic reports, the IACHR and its REDESCA have analyzed positive practices in this area, specifically, in the reports on Trans and Gender Diverse Persons and their ESCER and Advances and Challenges for the Recognition of the Rights of LGBTI Persons.

Along these lines, the IACHR and its REDESCA call on states to adopt complementary measures to counter these challenges, including the adoption of a normative framework against discrimination; the implementation of public policies aimed at the labor insertion of trans, non-binary and gender diverse persons; measures to involve the private and business sector in the strategy of labour inclusion of LGBTI persons; affirmative action measures to reverse the effects of decades of exclusion and marginalization; and, finally, to ratify the Inter-American Convention against All Forms of Discrimination and Intolerance, the first international treaty to explicitly contemplate "sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression" as prohibited grounds for discrimination. Finally, the Commission and its Special Rapporteurship urge States to guarantee the participation of LGBTI organizations and activists in the construction of such measures, in order to allow their opinions and demands to be integrated into actions aimed at correcting existing structural challenges.

REDESCA is an Office of the IACHR specially created to support the Commission in fulfilling its mandate to promote and protect economic, social, cultural, and environmental rights in the Americas.

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

No. 160/21