Press Release

On the Occasion of the 50th Anniversary of Pride Celebrations, the IACHR Welcomes Progress Regarding the Rights of LGBTI People in the Americas

June 30, 2020

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Washington, D.C. - As part of the celebrations to mark International LGBT Pride Day, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) welcomes the progress that has been made in recent months in the Americas on matters concerning the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) people. Furthermore, the IACHR calls on States to address the ongoing challenges in this area and to guarantee equality and nondiscrimination for LGBTI people, especially the enjoyment of their right to a life free from violence and economic, social, cultural, and environmental rights (ESCERs).

The IACHR acknowledges that societies in the Americas have been making efforts since before Pride celebrations began to recognize the rights of LGBTI people and other orientations and identities that do not fall within the binary gender/sex system (including traditional identities such as Muxe and Two-Spirit). However, the IACHR also notes that the origins of the current Pride celebrations date back to 1970, as part of the commemoration of the first anniversary of the social uprising in Stonewall, New York City, when a group of people—including black and Latinx trans women and lesbians—demonstrated against police persecution in response to their gender identities and/or expressions and their diverse sexual orientations.

As part of this anniversary, the IACHR acknowledges the transformations that have taken place around the recognition of the rights of LGBTI people since that historic moment and particularly welcomes the progress that has been made in the Americas in recent months. First, the IACHR celebrates the United States Supreme Court’s ruling on the landmark cases known as Bostock v. Clayton County, which was issued on June 15, 2020. In the ruling, the Court upheld that an employer who fires a person for being gay or trans violates the prohibition against employment discrimination contained in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The IACHR notes that the Supreme Court’s decision acknowledges that when an employer fires an employee for being gay or trans, they are firing them for traits or actions that would not have been questioned among heterosexual employees or those whose gender conformed to accepted social patterns. Consequently, “sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision [to discriminate against gay or trans employees], exactly what Title VII forbids.” In addition to welcoming the decision, the IACHR calls once more on States to take measures to ensure that LGBTI people are protected from employment discrimination by identifying gaps that hinder them from enjoying their legal rights and nondiscrimination on equal footing, while also promoting their full social inclusion.

The IACHR also celebrates the entry into force of equal marriage in Costa Rica on May 26, 2020, following the 18-month moratorium established in the ruling of the Supreme Court of Justice, in line with the standards of equality and nondiscrimination set out by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in Advisory Opinion 24/17. On a related matter, the IACHR also celebrates the first-instance decision handed down by the Second Family Court in Santiago, Chile, on June 8, 2020, which recognized two women as being the parents of their two-year-old son, which also complied with the IA Court’s ruling on the case of Atala Riffo and Daughters v. Chile. It also welcomes the entry into force of Law 21.120, through which the Chilean State recognizes and protects the right to gender identity. The IACHR notes that legal initiatives and judicial decisions of this sort seek to guarantee equality and nondiscrimination for people based on their sexual orientation and gender identity/expression and allow LGBTI people effective enjoyment of their rights.

On this occasion, the IACHR also reiterates its recommendation to States to guarantee the social inclusion of LGBTI people, especially of trans people experiencing cycles of poverty, exclusion, and lack of access to housing, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. The IACHR calls for Pride celebrations to seek out novel formats that enable these events to continue their work increasing the visibility and recognition of the rights of LGBTI people while respecting measures to contain the pandemic.

The IACHR also notes with alarm the persistence of acts of discrimination and violence, including transfemicides and murders of LGBTI people through particularly cruel acts that contain messages of punishment or repression of non-normative sexual identities, expressions, and characteristics. It therefore calls on States to apply standards of due diligence to prevent prejudice-based violence and investigate, prosecute, sanction, and provide reparation for such crimes. It also urges State governments to issue public statements categorically rejecting acts of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity or expression, such as hate crimes; and to adopt campaigns to prevent and combat homophobia, transphobia, and all forms of discrimination.

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.

No. 155/20