Activists Guide to the Yogyakarta Principles Launched Today:
New Toolkit to advance Equality on Grounds of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
Activists in regions around the world celebrated today the release of a new tool for LGBTI advocacy: the Activist’s Guide to the Yogyakarta Principles.
The Yogyakarta Principles are a set of principles on the application of international human rights law in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity. They were developed in response to well-documented patterns of abuse directed toward persons because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.
Todays publication – the Activists Guide – is a toolkit, which provides an introduction to the Yogyakarta Principles, exploring how they can enhance the work of activists in advancing rights for LGBTI people around the globe. It presents several creative examples of ways in which LGBTI activists have already used the Yogyakarta Principles to make significant gains, and suggests strategies for further engagement with the Principles.
One initiative profiled in the Activists Guide is a project by the Polish organisation KPH (Campaign Against Homophobia) called From Berlin to Yogyakarta: these travelling billboards trace the struggle for LGBTI rights from persecution under the Nazis to the affirmation of equality embodied in the Yogyakarta Principles. From the beginning we realised the importance of the Yogyakarta Principles, said KPH Board Member Greg Czarnecki. They have brought international weight to our efforts to combat homophobia and promote acceptance of LGBTI people. Now the Activists Guide will bring the Yogyakarta Principles to life for the broader community.
Vreer, of the Transgender Network Netherlands agrees: We are using the Yogyakarta Principles to get a fundamental flaw in gender recognition legislation corrected – the requirement of sterilisation in order to legally change one’s gender has to go.
In India, Voices against 377 and the Naz Foundation used the Yogyakarta Principles to support a successful challenge to s. 377 of the Indian Penal Code a relic of the colonial era used to harass and criminalise members of the LGBTI communities. Sunita Kujur of CREA, a member of Voices against 377, noted: It is difficult to ignore something that is based on international human rights law. The Activist’s Guide is a much needed document because it is not easy for everyone to understand the applicability of the Yogyakarta Principles. It is a powerful advocacy document that can equip the community to use international human rights law in the domestic sphere – otherwise there is this big divide between the worlds of international human rights law and grassroots advocacy or activism.
As the Activists Guide highlights, the Yogyakarta Principles have also been applied in South Africa to underline the need for police training and hate crimes protection in the face of continued violence, killings and so-called curative rape of lesbians. Recently, a group of gay and lesbian Kenyans, working together with the Kenyan Human Rights Commission, produced a publication highlighting the application of the Yogyakarta Principles in Kenyan society.
The Yogyakarta Principles have been important in guiding advocacy actions at the national level in Brazil. The Principles are an important reference source because they contain clear definitions of key concepts, such as sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as setting out many of our demands and needs, said Toni Reis of ABGLT, the Associação Brasileira de Gays, Lésbicas e Transgêneros. The Activists Guide is an excellent tool for combating stigma, discrimination and the growing religious fundamentalism we face.
In the Caribbean, the Society against Sexual Orientation Discrimination also welcomed the publication of the Guide: In our activism on human rights issues, said Vidyaratha Kissoon of SASOD, we recognise that public education is critical – especially in Guyana and the Caribbean where colonial era laws still dominate. We therefore look forward to using the Yogyakarta Principles and this Guide to engage the Government and the general public. The Guide is especially useful to the community because many people do not understand the human rights of LGBT persons.
We are excited to also announce the launch of a new website: www.ypinaction.org, said Kim Vance, Co-Director of ARC international. In addition to providing an online version of the Activists Guide for download, and an order form to request printed copies, this site will track uses of the Yogyakarta Principles, and help activists around the world share their success stories. Were thrilled to be able to provide a space in which creative initiatives based on the Yogyakarta Principles can be profiled.
The product of a collective effort, involving many groups and individuals, the Activists Guide was made possible through the generous support of funders including Dreilinden Gesellschaft für gemeinnütziges Privatkapital, Fund for Global Human Rights and Hivos.
Q. What are the Yogyakarta Principles?
The Yogyakarta Principles (www.yogyakartaprinciples.org) are a set of principles on the application of international human rights law in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity. The Principles affirm binding international legal standards with which all States must comply. They promise a different future where all people born free and equal in dignity and rights can fulfil that precious birthright.
Q. What is the Activists Guide?
The Activists Guide is a toolkit, designed to facilitate a deeper understanding of the Yogyakarta Principles and to encourage their use. We hope the Guide will encourage a further exploration of the Principles, and the international human rights law on which they are based. It includes many exciting examples of successful community activism based on the Yogyakarta Principles, and will hopefully inspire further creative advocacy in regions around the world.
Q. How is the Guide structured?
There are four sections to the Guide:
Section 1 (Overview and Context) gives an overview of what the Principles are, and provides contextual information about legal standards relating to sexual orientation and gender identity at the international and regional levels.
Section 2 (The Yogyakarta Principles Up Close) examines the content of the Principles and explores key themes and issues in more detail.
Section 3 (The Yogyakarta Principles in Action) presents case studies illustrating the impact of the Principles in a number of different areas: national legal decisions, policy changes, informing better health service delivery, empowering activists, and so on.
Section 4 (Applying the Yogyakarta Principles) suggests strategies for further engagement with the Principles, to carry them forward in future advocacy.
Q. How can the Guide be used?
The Guide can be used to encourage the promotion of the Yogyakarta Principles among policy makers and politicians, decision makers, human rights commissions and the general population, as well as among human rights defenders and rights-holders. Activists particularly LGBTI activists, but including the wider community of human rights activists are at the centre of these initiatives.
Q. How have the Yogyakarta Principles been used?
The Activists Guide demonstrates how the Yogyakarta Principles have been used to challenge oppressive legal standards in India, Nepal, the Netherlands and China; to develop new government policy in Brazil, Belize, Sweden and Colombia; to educate the public, and to build a movement by equipping LGBTI people about their rights under international law, for example, in opposition to curative rape in South Africa, or providing training for lesbians and transgender women in Lebanon.
Q. In what languages is the Activists Guide available?
The Guide is currently available in English and Spanish.
Q. How do I get a copy?
Q. Where do we go from here?
A new tracking website (http://ypinaction.org/) provides information on how the Principles are being used, as well as translations of the Principles. The Activists Guide is a living document, in constant growth. On this website you can read new stories of activism, and contribute your own. You can also download a digital version of the Guide, or order printed copies of both the Yogyakarta Principles and the Activists Guide. The potential uses of the Yogyakarta Principles are limited only by the creativity and resourcefulness of the activists in whose hands they now rest. We look forward to hearing more inspiring examples of how activists are using the Yogyakarta Principles to promote equality and justice for LGBTI people in communities large and small around the world!