MSMGF Urges UN Member States to Support Resolution on Human Rights, Sexual Orientation, and Gender Identity

Published: June 15, 2011

MSMGF Urges UN Member States to Support Resolution on Human Rights, Sexual Orientation, and Gender Identity

Human Rights Council measure has potential to improve public health and HIV response among gay men, transgender people

June 15, 2011 (Oakland, CA) – The Global Forum on MSM & HIV (MSMGF) urges all Member States of the United Nations Human Rights Council to support the draft resolution on human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity.

Presented by South Africa and set to be voted upon this Friday June 17, the resolution would establish new mechanisms for the systematic review of human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity.  The protection and promotion of human rights is an essential pillar of an effective global response to HIV. This is especially important for men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender people, whose disproportionately heavy burden of the HIV epidemic around the world is driven in large part by pervasive violence and discrimination against them.

HIV among MSM has been recorded at alarmingly high levels around the world, yet a recent report by the World Bank estimates that less than 1 in 10 MSM globally have access to the most basic package of HIV prevention services. While data on HIV among transgender people has been stymied by a lack of population-based studies and omission of gender variance variables in global health surveys, studies have been published revealing infection rates above 50% among transgender groups in South America, Europe, South Asia and the United States. 

Underlying these extremely high prevalence rates is a well-documented pattern of stigma, discrimination and human rights violations, working to drive MSM and transgender people underground and away from HIV-related information and services.  Violence and other forms of human rights violations against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities around the world have been consistently brought to light at the UN, including numerous citations in reports to the 17th Session of the Human Rights Council.

The proposed resolution on human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity is in line with existing UN instruments that articulate the universality of human rights and further reinforces UN positions on the urgent need to address HIV among MSM and transgender people.  The UNAIDS 2011-2015 strategy specifically articulates that addressing concentrated epidemics among MSM and transgender people is a vital priority in the global response to HIV.   Last week, the General Assembly issued the 2011 United Nations Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS, which commits to ensuring that national prevention strategies comprehensively target populations at higher risk, and specifically lists men who have sex with men as a key affected group in need of targeted attention.

We urge all leaders and decision-makers to recognize that human rights and public health are not separate or mutually exclusive objectives, but rather that they are inter-dependent and must be mutually reinforced.  The HRC resolution on human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity is a principled and important step forward for the achievement of global HIV targets (including Millennium Development Goal 6) and for the realization of universal human rights.  It should be supported by all relevant UN Member States.

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