UNITED NATIONS (CMC) — A group of United Nations and international human rights experts is calling on countries, including those in the Caribbean, to ensure that lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and gender diverse (LGBT) people fleeing persecution are protected against violence and treated with dignity.
In a message to mark the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOBIT) on Tuesday, the group said that they were urging states to tackle the root causes of forced displacement around the planet.
“Persecution from state and non-state actors, as well as socio-economic exclusion fuelled by stigma, discrimination, armed conflict, natural disasters, and climate change force many persons of diverse sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) to flee their homes in search of a safe environment where they can live authentically and fully exercise their rights.
“Among the 84 million people who are currently forcibly displaced worldwide, LGBT persons are among the most vulnerable and marginalised,” the group said, noting that although there is not yet accurate data on the number of LGBT forcibly displaced persons globally, many reside in countries that do not provide strong human rights protections, or that actively discriminate at the structural and institutional level on the basis of SOGI.
“The number of LGBT people in forced displacement is likely to increase in coming years, due to factors such as adverse climate impacts and intensifying socio-economic fragility,” the group said, adding that the structural vulnerabilities that LGBT people face are intensified by their situation as migrants, asylum seekers, refugees or internally displaced people.
The group said that over two-thirds of the world’s forcibly displaced people have not crossed a national border in their search for safety.
“LGBT persons who are internally displaced in countries that criminalise consensual same-sex relations and/or diverse gender identities are rarely systematically acknowledged and addressed by institutions that support internally displaced persons, most typically in fragile or conflict-affected areas. They may not have recourse to assistance and support services — including access to adequate health care services, offered by organisations whose mandates focus primarily on supporting asylum seekers arriving from other countries.”
The group said with the number of forcibly displaced persons continuing to rise, states, businesses, and humanitarian and civil society organisations must invest in developing human rights-based policies and programmes that take into full account the intersectional dimensions of forced displacement and sexual orientation and gender identity, fostering stronger collaboration and coordination among all actors responsible for the protection of displaced LGBT individuals.
“Some of the immediate issues that need to be addressed are: establishing programs that take into consideration the specific needs of displaced LGBT persons across all stages of their journey; improving reception conditions including for groups with special needs, like older persons and persons with disabilities, and ensuring safe accommodation and adequate access to health care services; ensuring adequate access to protection, asylum and refugee status determination; facilitating durable solutions of their choice, including options for resettlement; and building a thorough evidence-based ethical data collection, management and reporting.
“Furthermore, all efforts must be made to involve them in the design, implementation and monitoring of programmes and policies that target them and that ultimately seek their protection, ensuring their enjoyment of their fundamental rights, and assistance,” the group added.