IACHR Calls for Promotion of Educational Programs to Guarantee the Human Rights of Lesbian Women

April 27, 2024

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Washington, D.C.- On the occasion of International Lesbian Visibility Day, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) calls on States in the Americas to promote comprehensive sex education that is age-appropriate and addresses fundamental aspects of human sexuality and the effects of historically unequal power relations that affect women in all their diversity, including those who identify or are perceived as lesbian. This is essential if societies are to eradicate the discrimination and violence that continue to affect them.  

In some countries of the region, comprehensive sex education laws have been approved to provide everyone access to comprehensive scientific information on human sexuality, healthy relationships, and respect for diversity. These measures promote responsible attitudes toward sexuality, provide information on sexual and reproductive health, and contribute to equal rights and opportunities for people, without gender discrimination.

However, there is still a lack of information on sexual and gender diversity throughout the region, especially in school curricula. Indeed, some countries have even prohibited teaching with a gender perspective. At the same time, the use of inclusive language in basic education and educational materials containing basic information about the life experiences of LGBTI people has been restricted. Such practices perpetuate the historical invisibility of lesbians in society and become an additional obstacle to the elimination of gender stereotypes and prejudices against sexual diversity.  

Such prejudices are at the root of the discrimination and violence to which lesbians continue to be subjected and must be combated through educational measures. The IACHR has warned States of their obligation to take preventive measures against the intersection of gender-based and prejudicial violence that continues to affect them. This includes acts of violence intended to “punish," “change,” or “eliminate” the sexual orientation and gender expression of lesbians. 

The Convention of Belém do Pará establishes the obligation of States Parties to modify sociocultural behavior patterns that contribute to or perpetuate gender inequality. The IA Court has reaffirmed the obligation of States to adopt positive measures to eliminate or modify discriminatory situations that may be present in their societies. In line with these rulings and in light of States’ international obligations, the IACHR has recommended that States ensure that educational policies combat sociocultural patterns of discriminatory behavior. If policies do not do so, a social message of rejection is sent to people with diverse, nondominant sexual orientations. 

In this context, States are called upon to implement and advance legislation and public policies that guarantee inclusive comprehensive sexual education programs to prevent gender-based violence based on prejudice and ensure societies respectful of diversity and the rights of lesbians. 

The IACHR expressed its willingness to collaborate with States and civil society to promote and protect the human rights of lesbians, including processes to integrate comprehensive sex education that take lesbians’ rights and needs into account as an essential part of the strategy to ensure they can fully exercise their human rights. 

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

*Commissioners Carlos Bernal Pulido, Edgar Stuardo Ralón Orellana and Gloria De Mees voted against this press release.


No. 080/24

7:53 PM