UN Human Rights Council Topic 2
Violence and Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
On June 30, 2016, the Human Rights Council created a mandate called the Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, also known as the IE SOGI. The relatively new mandate is intended to gather data to find ways to protect individuals who are discriminated against and targeted because of their sexual orientation and gender identity (“About the mandate 2022”).
The UNHRC defines gender identity as a person’s deeply felt internal and individual experience of gender, which may or may not correspond with the sex assigned at birth including the personal sense of the body and other expressions of gender, including dress, speech, and mannerisms. Someone who is “gender-diverse” refers to someone whose gender identity does not conform with the gender norm in a particular context at a particular point in time. Individuals who describe themselves as “trans” are persons who identify with a different sex than the one assigned to them at birth (“The struggle of trans and gender-diverse people” 2022).
Gender-diverse and trans people are marginalized in every region throughout the world. This is not a region-specific issue. Gender-diverse people are bullied at school, rejected by their families and neighbors, and can be denied employment. When they are a person of color, an ethnic minority, a migrant, or have HIV, they are even more at risk of violence, killing, beatings, rape, and other forms of abuse that impedes on their human rights (“The struggle of trans and gender-diverse people” 2022). States also play a role in systemically discriminating against gender-diverse and trans people. An example of state-marginalization is when the person’s gender identity does not match their official, legal documents. This can lead to harassment from state workers because the marginalized person does not conform with the gender norm at that time.
To ensure that gender-diverse and trans people are treated equally and are effectively included in their society, states are advised to adopt measures to protect trans and gender-diverse children from all forms of discrimination and violence, review laws and policies that promote harassment by law enforcement, and adopt anti-discrimination legislation that includes gender identity among prohibited grounds. In 2019, the United Nations World Health Assembly revised an existing classification that categorized trans people as having mental disorders (“The struggle of trans and gender-diverse people” 2022). Because of more research and understanding, the stigma of trans people having a mental disorder is no longer a social stigma at the United Nations.
With time and effort, the marginalization and discrimination of trans and gender-diverse people will change. The IE SOGI hopes that it can accelerate this process by providing free expert information to all states, firms, organizations, and individuals. But there is so much more to do. As a delegate, it will be your responsibility to effectively represent your country and help improve this new mandate. What solutions can you help develop to eliminate gender-based discrimination and violence?
Questions to consider:
- How does your country view trans/gender-diverse people?
- With your country’s perspective in mind, what solutions can you provide to the committee?
- What can your country do to cease discrimination and the marginalization of trans/gender-diverse people?
- What does your country want to see from this committee?
Resources to consider:
- “Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.” United Nations, 2022, https://www.ohchr.org/en/special-procedures/ie-sexual-orientation-and-gender-identity
- “Protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.” United Nations, 2022, https://www.ohchr.org/sites/default/files/Report_Work_Plan_2021_2023.pdf
- “The struggle of trans and gender-diverse persons.” United Nations, 2022, https://www.ohchr.org/en/special-procedures/ie-sexual-orientation-and-gender-identity/struggle-trans-and-gender-diverse-persons
- “About the mandate.” United Nations, 2022, https://www.ohchr.org/en/special-procedures/ie-sexual-orientation-and-gender-identity/about-mandate