IACHR and Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression: States must promote the inclusion and guarantee the human rights of LGBTIQ persons

June 30, 2023

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Washington, D.C. - In the context of LGBTI Pride Month, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) celebrates the diversity and struggle of lesbian, gay, trans, bisexual, queer, and gender-diverse persons and urges the states of the continent to guarantee the human rights of those persons. This includes advancing the adoption of concrete measures to eradicate violence and discrimination, as well as ensuring their rights to free association and expression.

The IACHR and its Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression recognize the importance of the right to freedom of peaceful assembly, association, and expression for the promotion and defense of human rights. They reiterate that the joint exercise of these fundamental rights makes the free exercise of democracy possible. Peaceful protest is a channel that allows persons and different groups in society to organize and express their demands in various ways, both individually and collectively. LGBTI Pride rallies are one such form of expression.

LGBTQI Pride marches have emerged in the region amid a historical context characterized by the lack of recognition of rights, discrimination, social exclusion, and, in many cases, violence perpetrated by State agents based on prejudice. Pride rallies have been and continue to be a tool for promoting respect, tolerance, and social inclusion for individuals with non-normative sexual orientations, gender identities, gender expressions, or diverse bodies. In the Inter-American Human Rights System, demonstrations that express essential elements such as identity and personal dignity, like LGBTI pride parades, enjoy reinforced protection due to their significance for the exercise of other human rights and the preservation of democracy.

Regarding the right of association and peaceful assembly for LGBTI individuals, the IACHR believes that states should refrain from imposing excessive and arbitrary restrictions and obstacles that prevent or hinder the exercise of the right to peaceful assembly in public spaces such as streets, squares, or parks, among others. The IACHR and its Office of the Special Rapporteur have stated that limitations of this nature are incompatible with Inter-American standards on freedom of expression, assembly, and association. Access to public spaces facilitates the interaction among different sectors of the population, the dissemination and exchange of ideas, messages, political demands, and ultimately, the promotion of human rights and social inclusion.

The IACHR welcomes the initiatives of states and local governments that aim to create safe spaces, free from violence and discrimination, where LGBTI individuals can exercise their right to association and freedom of expression without fear of being attacked, facing violence, being penalized, or stigmatized for doing so. The Commission and its Special Rapporteurship urge states to take affirmative actions that promote the rights of LGBTI individuals, the visibility of their demands and human rights, through civic and cultural participation, and dialogues that contribute to dismantling existing stereotypes and prejudices.

The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression (RELE) is an office created by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in order to stimulate the hemispheric defense of the right to freedom of thought and expression, considering its fundamental role in the consolidation and the development of the democratic system.

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. 144/23

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