LGBT Human Rights Internationally – The Yogyakarta Principles

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Today is June 10th, which means we are as far away from Human Rights Day (December 10) as we can be.  Personally, I think every day needs to be a human rights day, but that’s just me.

I thought today would be the perfect day to take a look at what guidelines are available to help us understand our rights as members of the queer community.  I’ll look at the international level, and then at the national level.

In November of 2006, experts gathered in Yogyakarta, Indonesia to discuss human rights.  The result of their discussions was a set of principles known as The Yogyakarta Principles.  They set an international standard for how people should be treated, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.  Here is a brief look at the principles they laid out.

1. The right to the universal enjoyment of human rights.

2. The rights to equality and non-discrimination.

For some states, this might mean decriminalizing homosexuality.  The principle also advocates for affirmative action and education/training to eliminate prejudice and discriminatory attitudes.

3. The right to recognition before the law.

This specifies “No one shall be forced to undergo medical procedures, including sex reassignment surgery, sterilisation, or hormonal therapy, as a requirement for legal recognition of their gender identity.”  It also insists that all laws and documentation respect an individuals “self-defined gender identity.”

4. The right to life.

5. The right to security of the person.

The language here is quite strong, including addressing hate crimes, bias-motivated threats, prejudice-motivated defenses, and campaigns of awareness-raising.

6. The right to privacy.

7. The right to freedom from arbitrary deprivation of liberty.

8. The right to a fair trial.

9. The right to treatment with humanity while in detention.

10. The right to freedom from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

11. The right to protection from all forms of exploitation, sale and trafficking of human beings.

12. The right to work.

This includes an inclusive employment non-discrimination policy.  When you read it, you wonder why it’s so hard for our government to address the issue.

13. The right to social security and to other social protection meausres.

14. The right to an adequate standard of living.

15. The right to adequate housing.

16. The right to education.

This includes enhancing “understanding of and respect for… diverse sexual orientations and gender identities.”  Again, it sounds so simple, yet so many ignorant parents are scared of this.

17. The right to the highest attainable standard of health.

This includes ensuring “that all health service providers treat clients and their partners without discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, including with regard to recognition as next of kin.”  It doesn’t seem there is leeway for a doctor’s discriminatory religious beliefs.

18. Protection from medical abuses.

19. The right to freedom of opinion and expression.

I like that: the freedom of opinion.  This right, of course, reinforces protections for gender identity and presentation, as much it should!

20. The right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.

21. The right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

I like the language that accompanies this: “Ensure that the expression, practice and promotion of different opinions, convictions and beliefs with regard to issues of sexual orientation or gender identity is not undertaken in a manner incompatible with human rights.”

22. The right to freedom of movement.

23. The right to seek asylum.

24. The right to found a family.

Marriage equality.  Adoption rights and child protection.  Equality should be so easy.

25. The right to participate in public life.

26. The right to participate in cultural life.

27. The right to promote human rights.

28. The right to effective remedies and redress.

29. Accountability.

This is amazingly powerful document.  I am surprised more people do not know about it.  If you have some time, I encourage you to go to the Yogyakarta Principles website and read through the full document.  There is some very strong, useful language.  I feel validated as a person just for reading it!

Let’s see what they came up with closer to home…

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