IACHR: States must promote comprehensive strategies to address violence against lesbian women

April 28, 2023

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Washington, D.C. - In commemoration of lesbian visibility week, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) calls on OAS member states to promote the principle of equality and non-discrimination through the development of educational programs and awareness campaigns to deal with prejudice and violence against lesbian women.

Lesbian women are subjected to gender-based violence, as well as prejudice based on their sexual orientation or non-normative gender expressions. This intersection of factors places them in a particular situation of vulnerability. As a result, they are exposed to harassment at work, bullying at schools and universities, and violence at home by family members. They are also at constant risk of suffering sexual violence with the intention of allegedly "correcting" their sexual orientation.

In this context, States must act with due diligence to prevent all forms of gender-based violence against women, taking into account the structural factors that give rise to it, and adopt differentiated approaches with respect to women who are in a situation of intersectional discrimination, as is the case of lesbian women. In this sense, States must implement a comprehensive prevention strategy and prevent risk factors and strengthen institutions so that they can give an effective response to cases of gender-based violence.

Said prevention strategy should encompass the adoption of all de jure and de facto political and cultural measures, and all those measures that are necessary to promote the safeguarding of human rights. This, with special attention to the application of the gender approach when designing laws and public policies to deal with violence and discrimination, promoting egalitarian gender relations and eradicating macho cultural patterns that perpetuate and reproduce this violence.

Additionally, in its recent judgment, the Inter-American Court also highlighted that in order to eliminate all types of discriminatory practices and attitudes and achieve substantive equality, the involvement of the entire community is necessary, including non-state actors. This includes the design and implementation of national information campaigns in the media to promote a culture of respect, non-discrimination and guarantee the rights of LGBTIQ+ people. The Commission also calls upon states to recognize and give support to families of lesbians on an equal basis.

The IACHR expresses its willingness to provide technical cooperation to States in respect of human rights and monitoring of inter-American standards.

The IACHR is a principal and autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), whose mandate stems 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 an advisory body to the OAS on the matter. The IACHR is made up of seven independent members who are elected by the OAS General Assembly in their personal capacity, and do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 079/23

10:50 AM