Press Release

IACHR expresses concern about violence and discrimination against LGTBI persons, particularly youth, in the Americas.

August 15, 2013

Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) reiterates its deep concern on violence and discrimination against lesbian, gay, trans, bisexual and intersex persons (LGTBI), and against persons perceived as such in the Americas, and urges OAS Member States to adopt urgent measures to prevent this violence and discrimination. In particular, the Commission is concerned about the high levels of violence and discrimination faced by gay, lesbian and trans youth in the region.

According to the information received, there have been several cases of discrimination and violence in schools against LGTBI youth or those perceived as such, especially lesbian, gay and trans children and adolescents, perpetrated by school authorities and schoolmates during this month. The Inter-American Commission continues to receive information on suicides, especially by LGTBI children and adolescents in the region. During the month of July alone, the IACHR was informed about two suicides of boys aged 15 and 16 in Peru and the United States, respectively. The 15-year-old boy was allegedly bullied by his relatives, while the 16-year-old, who had come out as gay last year, was allegedly bullied by his schoolmates.

Also, the Inter-American Commission was informed that, during the month of July 2013, 23 murders were committed against trans persons and trans women or those perceived as such in Brazil (9), Colombia (2), Honduras (4), Jamaica (1), Mexico (2), Paraguay (1), Peru (2), the United States (1), and Venezuela (1). It is reported that most of these victims were less than 35 years of age, a majority of them being under 25. Also, the majority of these victims were shot, most of them multiple times. Additionally, the IACHR was informed of 13 cases of murders of gay men of all ages in Brazil (8), Honduras (1), Mexico (1), Peru (2), and Venezuela (1), the vast majority of which were beaten to death. It also received information on the murders of three Brazilian lesbian women, two of them less than 25 years of age. Also, the Commission was informed of several cases of violent attacks against trans persons in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, and in the District of Columbia, United States. The Commission learned of a 19-year-old gay young man in Chile who had to undergo surgery to have his leg amputated after an attack suffered at a soccer field the month before, and that a young lesbian couple was attacked and beaten by a group of ten men in Chicago, United States.

The Inter-American Commission recalls that it is the States' obligation to investigate killings and other acts of violence against LGTBI persons and sanction those responsible. The IACHR urges the States to open lines of investigation that take into account whether these murders and acts of violence were committed because of the gender identity, gender expression and/or sexual orientation of the victims. In general terms, the Commission notes that there are problems in the investigation of these crimes. In this regard, the Inter-American Commission reiterates that the ineffectiveness of the state’s response fosters high rates of impunity, which in turn lead to the chronic repetition of such crimes, leaving the victims and their families defenseless.

 Additionally, during the month of July 2013, the Ecuadorean Ministry of Health announced the existence of a network of so-called “health centers” or “clinics”, in which LGTBI persons, particularly young lesbian, gay and trans persons or those perceived as such, are allegedly committed against their will by their relatives in an attempt to modify their sexual orientation and/or gender identity and/or expression. The Ministry indicates that it is conducting investigations and that some centers have been shut down since 2011. The IACHR recognizes the State’s efforts in this regard, and encourages it to adopt all measures necessary to prevent the existence of these centers and to investigate them, as well as to punish those responsible.

The Inter-American Commission urges States to take all necessary measures to apply due diligence in preventing, investigating and sanctioning violence against LGTBI persons, regardless of whether it occurs in the family, the community, or the public sphere, including education and health facilities. This includes the adoption of policies and public campaigns to promote awareness and respect for the human rights of LGTBI persons, in all sectors, including the educational and family settings, as a means to combat the prejudices that underlie violence related to sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. Finally, the Commission urges States to take action to prevent and respond to these human rights violations and to ensure that LGTBI persons can effectively enjoy their right to a life free from discrimination and violence.

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 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.

No. 60/13