Outcomes of the 11th UPR cycle, Country Reports adopted at the 18th session of the UN Human Rights Council

Published: October 3, 2011

DETAILED DOCUMENTATION AND THE WEBCAST ON                 THE REVIEW OF EACH COUNTRY CAN BE FOUND HERE: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/Documentation.aspx

PLEASE NOTICE THAT ADDITIONAL WEBCAST MATERIAL, INCLUDING INTERVENTIONS MADE ON SOGI ISSUE BY NGO’S CAN BE FOUND HERE: www.unmultimedia.org/tv/webcast. TO FIND THE RELEVANT INTERVENTIONS, PLEASE ENTER YOUR COUNTRY IN THE SEARCH YOUR COUNTRY.

Belgium
•    Belgium accepted recommendations to 1) Take all appropriate action, including programmes of education and training, in order to eliminate prejudice and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity; and 2) Protect gender identity and expression under anti-discriminatory laws and policies);
•    A joint NGO statement was delivered (see annex 1), calling for explicit reference of discrimination grounds in Belgium’s constitution and the abolishment of the sterilisation requirement for gender recognition.

Denmark
•    Despite extensive stakeholder input, no references to SOGI issues have been made during the UPR process.
•    A joint NGO statement was delivered asking for the abolishment of hormonal or surgical reassignment before legal recognition of gender identity, as well as the inclusion of gender identity in existing anti-discrimination legislation (see annex 2).

Palau
•    Palau accepted recommendations to decriminalize sexual relations between consenting adults of the same sex and committed to amend current legislation and bring it into line with international standards, answering recommendations made by France, Norway and Spain. Palau also accepted to combat discrimination of LGBT people through political, legislative and administrative measures. 
•    The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network commended Palau for its commitments, asked for the proposed timetable and encouraged Palau to work with civil society and provide sensitivity training to police, judicial and other authorities (see annex 3).

Somalia
•    No references to LGBT issues were made during the UPR process.
•    Amnesty however recommended to abolish the death penalty.

Seychelles
•    Seychelles accepted recommendations to:
o    Bring its legislation into conformity with its commitment to equality and non-discrimination, by prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity;
o    Take appropriate steps to ensure that same-sex activity between consenting adults is not subject to criminal sanctions;
o    Decriminalize any discriminatory provisions with respect to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons;
o    Combat discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual persons through political, legislative and administrative measures,
By stating that:
The Constitution of Seychelles makes provision for all persons to be free from discrimination on all grounds. Article 27 of the Constitution states that “Every person has a right to equal protection of the law including the enjoyment of the rights and freedoms set out in this Charter without discrimination on any ground except as is necessary in a democratic society.” The one provision in the Penal Code for “sodomy” does not directly discriminate homosexuals as it is intended for penalizing the offence of sodomy as such. In any case this provision has never been applied against anyone. The Government will decide as to when and to what extend the legislation could be amended to better guarantee the Constitutional precept that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual persons are not to be discriminated in Seychelles.
•    Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network made a statement asking the delegation to indicate a timeframe for making the proposed process and asking the delegation what other steps are planned to advance non-discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity (see annex 4).
•    The second Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sandra Michel, answered that the change of relevant laws would come pretty soon, as the government and civil society want so. Afterwards the government could undertake dissemination about the position of government in relation to these persons. The UPR report could be used to in relation to dissemination as it states the position of the government, to bring fairer treatment and protection to these people.

Solomon Islands    
•    During the UPR Working Group session Solomon Islands reported that: the cultural context of the society does not condone relationships between same sexes. Any commitment to removing Penal Code provisions criminalizing sexual relations between consenting adults of the same sex must be subject to consultations. However, there have not been any submissions to the Law Reform Commission in their review of the Penal Code to repeal these sections.
•    Whilst Solomon Island accepted a recommendation to repeal all provisions which criminalize sexual activity between consenting adults in conformity with international obligations, Solomon Island rejected recommendations to decriminalize sexual relations between consenting adults of the same sex, stating that it would be too early to discuss decriminalization of adults of the same-sex. It requires thorough consultations with Christian doctrines and civil society.
•    Save the Children International made a statement calling for decriminalization.
•    The Canadian HIV/AIDS legal network expressed disappointment in Solomon Island’s failure to decriminalize consenting relations between consenting same-sex adults referring to comments by the Human Rights Committee and the UN High Commissioner in this regard (see annex 5).
•    The Minister of Foreign Affairs thanked for the Canadian HIV/AIDS legal network for its concern, at replied that a national and nation-wide consultation on decriminalization is needed. The government will discuss the 2012 national budget the coming months, and will allocate budget for such a consultation .

Latvia
•    Latvia accepted recommendations to 1) increase efforts to combat discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation; 2) Provide general information about anti-discrimination and reform the curriculum in schools to put regularly emphasis on information about gender equality, LGBT and ethnic minorities;
•    Latvia rejected recommendations to adopt legislation that recognizes homophobic and transphobic motivation as aggravating circumstances in criminal law, arguing that no cases of violence have actually been reported and that discussions on this would not have taken place; as well as a recommendation to recognize the diversity of family forms by i.e. recognizing rights to same-sex couples;
•    In the plenary session the representative of Latvia repeated that according to the government records no violence against LGBT people had been reported and that the freedom of assembly was safeguarded for all citizens .
•    ILGA-Europe together with COC Netherlands and Mozaika delivered a statement commending Latvia for accepting a number of recommendations, but criticizing Latvia for rejecting recommendations on hate-crime legislation stating that such crimes did actually take place, and urging Latvia to reconsider its position in relation to the recognition of same-sex couples, i.e. by introducing partnership registration (see annex 6).

Sierra Leone
•    Sierra Leone rejected recommendations to repeal provisions that may be used to criminalize sexual activity between consenting adults and to bring its legislation into conformity with its commitment to equality and non-discrimination by prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity;
•    During the Working Group session the delegated stated that there was no discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. It was expressly prohibited under the Constitution.  The delegation reiterated the Government’s commitment that persons under its/subject to its jurisdiction will be protected under the law.

Singapore
•    Singapore rejected recommendations to repeal legal provisions criminalizing sexual activity between adults of the same sex and to draw consequences of the positive evaluation of society with respect to homosexuality by abolishing the provisions of the Penal Code related to private relations between consenting adults;
•    During the Working Group session Singapore affirmed that all individuals were free to pursue their lifestyles, and recognition and success were based on merit. LGBT persons did not have to hide their sexual orientation for fear of losing their jobs or for fear of prosecution. Any person unfairly dismissed had legal recourse. On the issues of whether to decriminalize certain homosexual acts, this had been debated extensively, including in parliament but the decision was taken to retain the status quo. Much of Singapore remained conservative, a fact which could not be changed by legislation alone. It was noted however that the police did not proactively enforce the provision unless other laws such as on indecent public behaviour or paedophilia were broken.
•    NGOs recommended Singapore to reconsider its position in relation to decriminalization.

Suriname
•    Suriname rejected recommendations to equalize the age of consent for opposite and same-sex conduct and same sex conduct, and adopt appropriate legislative measures and other measures to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
•    Suriname explained during the Working Group session that: “Debate with religious authorities and other groups regarding the extension of special rights to LBGT individuals, is necessary. National legislation offers protection of human rights to all Surinamese citizens, as well as all others on Surinamese territory; hence LBGT individuals enjoy the same protections as all others. Even though sexual orientation remains a sensitive and controversial issue, the Government will endeavour to undertake those steps necessary to address all concerns”. 
•    During the Human Rights Council session these considerations were repeated by the Surinamese Minister for Justice who stated that the government feels that the constitution provides adequate protection against discrimination for all. However, any attempt to embed specific rights for LGBT individuals in the legislation as doomed to fail without support of the parliament, which reflects people. Therefore any legislative measure can only take place after the initiation of a general discussion on this sensitive issue, involving all actors in society, including religious organizations and LGBT platform groups and individuals.a national discussion during which the views of society, LGBT and other groups need to be respected.
•    The United States made a statement in which it welcomed Suriname’s willingness to engage in constructive dialogue with civil society actors on issues of sexual orientation and gender identity and asked Suriname to reconsider its position to recommendations made in this regard.
•    The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network and Suriname Gay Men United on behalf of a collation of Surinamese organisations made a statement commending Suriname for endeavouring to take steps necessary to address concerns in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity, and asking the government to reconsider its position in relation to explicit inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity in article 8.2 of its constitution and to take measures to effectuate this article. The speaker also encouraged the government to establish cooperation with LGBT groups and present a time-table for these matters (see annex 7).
•    In closing, the government reiterated that the constitution provides equal rights to all its citizens, but has never received any report from organizations stating that lesbian or gay people are being discriminated. Suriname was looking forward to receiving written information and would then to see how to deal with that.
•    (Informally the government invited the LGBT groups in Suriname for continuation of this discussion in Paramaribo after the UPR session).

Greece
•    Greece accepted a recommendation to include sexual orientation and gender identity as grounds for protection in anti-discrimination legislation and policies explaining that the legislation already included sexual orientation as prohibited ground of discrimination and that the legislative framework will be included in the field of application in implementing the EU Framework Decision 008/913/JHA on combating certain forms and expression of racism and xenophobia by means of criminal law. Greece further explained that the draft law is at the stage of organized consultation with the National Commission for Human Rights and the Law Schools of our country, the public consultation having now been completed. Art. 79 para. 3 of the Greek Penal Code, as amended by law 3719/2008, provides that the commission of an offence motivated by ethnic, racial or religious hatred or hatred on account of a different sexual orientation constitutes an aggravating circumstance. It is considered that discrimination based on gender identity or expression falls within the scope of discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation.
•    Greece also accepted a recommendation to consider recognizing same sex couples stating that any relevant decision will be taken after a public consultation on whether or not the Cohabitation Pact (law 3719/2008) should be expanded to same sex couples.
•    During the adoption of the report in the Human Rights Council Amnesty International encouraged Greece to continue working on same-sex legislation.
•    ILGA-Europe and COC Netherlands made a statement encouraging Greece to explicitly include gender identity in its constitution explaining that sexual orientation and gender identity are different concepts and encouraging Greece to broaden the scope of current anti-discrimination legislation to other fields (see annex 8)
•    The Head of the Public International Law Legal Department, H.E. Mrs. Maria Telalian responded that she considered the suggestion made by ILGA-Europe useful explaining that the Greek constitution explicitly has sexual orientation amongst the prohibited grounds and the law provides for the principle of equal treatment. Complaints may be submitted to the competent bodies, the ombudsman, and that it cannot be disputed that groups suffer discrimination on the basis of gender identity are equally protected on provisions that are based on sexual orientation. These issues are sensitive issues, and the Greek government usually follows the opinion of the public.

Samoa
•    Samoa rejected recommendations to fulfil its commitment to equality and non-discrimination by repealing all legal provisions that criminalise sexual activity between consenting adults and investigate all cases of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. It did so by explaining that decriminalizing sexual activity of sodomy is a culturally sensitive issue. There are no cases yet before the courts based on sexual orientation and gender identity and if they do, the Court will rule them out based on discrimination. In addition, Samoa argued that the definition of ‘relations’ used in one of the recommendations  was not clear and that is was not a crime to have a relationship between consenting adults of the same sex. It stated that decriminalizing sexual activity of sodomy is a culturally sensitive issue and against the Christian beliefs of the Samoa society.
•    The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network made a statement expressing disappointment for the rejection of recommendations, in particular in light of Samoa’s support to the March joint statement on SOGI issues at the Human Rights Council (annex 9).

Saint Vincent and Grenadines
•    During the Working Group process Saint Vincent and the Grenadines indicated in response to questions raised by several states in relation to decriminalization of homosexuality that its national legislation included a variety of provisions that dealt with sexual activity between consenting adults. Existing legislation against incest, prostitution, public indecency, same sex acts and buggery, all enjoyed wide popular support in the State and there was no legislative appetite to repeal any of these provisions.
•    Several recommendations relating to the decriminalization of homosexuality were rejected.
•    The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network made an intervention expressing disappointment for the rejection of recommendations which run counter with specific recommendations made by the UN Human Rights Committee (annex 10).

Sudan
•    No references to sexual orientation or gender identity were made.

Hungary
•    Hungary accepted numerous recommendations relating to SOGI issues made during the UPR process, including measures to raise awareness including training for the police and the judiciary; 2) the strengthening of hate-crime legislation including providing victim assistance; and 3) the explicit prohibition of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity;
•    During the UPR process the delegation noted that the adoption of a new constitution in April 2011 had represented a milestone for the development of the rule of law … strengthened the protection of human rights … contained a more specific list of rights than before. Whilst the constitution stipulated that a marriage was an institution between a man and a women, the rights of same sex couples in a registered partnership were protected to the same extent as those of heterosexual couples;
•    ILGA-Europe, COC Netherlands and Háttér intervened with a statement expressing concerns about the absence of explicit reference to sexual orientation and gender identity in Hungary’s constitution, asking for the envisaged timeframe for the implementation of the accepted recommendations and made several other recommendations (see annex 11).
•    In its feedback the delegation of Hungary repeated that the current law protects against discrimination on all grounds, including sexual orientation and gender identity. In closing, the delegation mentioned it would engage with civil society to work on the follow-up of the UPR process, as well it would consider sending a mid-term report on the implementation of accepted recommendations to the Human Rights Council.

Papua New Guinea
•    Papua New Guinea rejected recommendations to decriminalize sexual relations between consenting adults of the same sex and to amend national legislation to include sexual orientation and gender as prohibited grounds for discrimination, are still pending.
•    Papua New Guinea, which wasn’t present in Geneva itself during the adaption of the report, explained its position stating that national consultations are still going on.
•    Canadia HIV/AIDS Legal Network delivered a statement welcoming the fact that a review of existing laws governing sexual offences is going to take place and that the rejection of recommendations therefore was disappointing (annex 12).
 
Annex 1
UPR INTERVENTION FOR BELGIUM
Wednesday 21 September 2011
ILGA Europe, COC Netherlands and Çavaria
Delivered by Björn van Roozendaal
Mr. President,

We commend Belgium to accept recommendations to take action to eliminate prejudice and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. We encourage Belgium to do so by developing awareness raising programs and integrating information about sexual orientation and gender identity issues in school curricula.

During the Universal Periodic Review process Belgium has indicated that gender identity and expression are currently covered under existing anti-discrimination laws and policies. Whilst we appreciate this, we recommend Belgium to make explicit reference to discrimination grounds, such as sexual orientation, gender identity and gender identity, in its constitution.

In connection to upholding anti-discrimination practices in laws and policies, we are concerned about the existing requirement of surgery leading to sterilisation, which is necessary for trans people to have their new gender recognized. This requirement applies also in the absence of medical necessity. We recommend Belgium to abolish this requirement, a view which has previously been supported by The Committee on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women, as well as the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights .

We encourage Belgium to share best practices in the field of combating discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity with other countries. Finally, we appreciate Belgium’s recognition of the Yogyakarta Principles on human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity, and recommend Belgium to continue using these principles in both its domestic and foreign policies.

Thank you Mr President.

Annex 2
UPR INTERVENTION FOR DENMARK
Wednesday 21 September 2011
LBL, ILGA Europe, COC Netherlands
Delivered by Björn van Roozendaal
Mr. President,

We commend Denmark for its commitment to equality and non-discrimination as expressed during the UPR process. We take note of stakeholders submissions to the UPR process of Denmark in which has been indicated that Denmark requires hormonal or surgical sex reassignment before legal recognition of gender identity is possible. This practise breaches the right to privacy as well as the right to health. The Human Rights Commissioner of the Council of Europe holds the view that such laws need to be abolished. We recommend Denmark to take the necessary steps to abolish these existing requirements.

Gender identity is currently not explicitly included as ground for discrimination in existing anti-discrimination legislation. We encourage Denmark to include gender identity explicitly in its anti-discrimination legislation.

Finally, we strongly urge Denmark to consider applying the Yogyakarta Principles on the Application of International Human Rights Law in relation to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity as a guide to assist in policy development.

Thank you Mr President.

Annex 3

UPR INTERVENTION FOR PALAU
Wednesday 21 September 2011
Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network
Delivered by Kenneth van Emden

Mr. President,

We commend for its commitment to equality and non-discrimination. We are particularly pleased to see Palau accept recommendations to decriminalize sexual relations between consenting adults of the same sex.  This commitment is consistent with Palau’s support for the joint statement on ending acts of violence, criminal sanctions and related human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity, delivered last March to the Human Rights Council on behalf of 85 States.

As the UN Human Rights Committee has confirmed, laws criminalising same-sex relations are inconsistent with rights to privacy and non-discrimination, and inhibit measures to address HIV and AIDS by driving marginalised communities underground.

We therefore welcome Palau’s commitment to amend current legislation and bring it into line with international standards. This development will send a strong message of encouragement to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens of Palau, who will be able to participate more equally in socety.  We would be interested to know the timetable proposed for this reform.

We also welcome Palau’s acceptance of a recommendation to combat discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people through political, legislative and administrative measures. In order to develop these measures, we strongly encourage Palau to work together with civil society. We also call on Palau to provide sensitivity training to police, judicial and other authorities, as to promote the respect for all persons, including on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity and to ensure that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens are treated equally to all other citizens by state authorities.

Finally, we urge Palau to consider applying the Yogyakarta Principles on the Application of International Human Rights Law in relation to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity as a guide to assist in policy development.

Thank you Mr President.

Annex 4

Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network
Statement on the UPR of Seychelles
18th session of the Human Rights Council – 21 September 2011

Thank you Madame President,

We welcome the confirmation provided by the Seychelles that article 27 of the Constitution prohibits discrimination on any grounds whatsoever, including sexual orientation and gender identity.

This position is consistent with Seychelles’ support for the joint statement on ending acts of violence and related human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity, which was presented to this Council at its 16th session.

However, we remain concerned that Section 151 of the Criminal Code penalises sexual activity between consenting adults. Although this provision has never been applied, we are particularly pleased to see Seychelles accept the recommendations to repeal it from the Criminal Code.

We encourage Seychelles to amend current legislation to bring it into line with international standards as soon as possible. This would send a strong message of encouragement to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens of Seychelles, who would be able to participate more equally in society without fear of discrimination or stigma. Could the delegation indicate a timeframe for this process? 

We welcome the provision in the Employment Act which protects individuals from discrimination based on sexual orientation. Can the delegation indicate  what other steps are being taken or planned to advance non-discrimination on the grounds of both sexual orientation and gender identity?

Finally, we encourage Seychelles to consider adopting the Yogyakarta Principles on the application of international human rights law in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity as a guide to assist policy making in this area.

Thank you.

Annex 5

UPR INTERVENTION FOR SOLOMON ISLANDS
Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network
–    delivered by John Fisher

Wednesday 21 September 2011

Madam President, distinguished members of the delegation,

We welcome the Solomon Islands’ stated commitment to equality and non-discrimination.  We are therefore particularly disappointed that the Solomon Islands was not yet ready to accept recommendations to repeal provisions which criminalise sexual activity between consenting adults of the same sex.

The UN Human Rights Committee has confirmed that laws criminalising same-sex relations are inconsistent with rights to privacy and non-discrimination, and “run counter to the implementation of effective education programmes in respect of HIV/AIDS prevention” by driving marginalised communities underground, a position also affirmed by UNAIDS.

As the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Navanethem Pillay, recently emphasised:

“The principle of universality admits no exception. Human rights truly are the birthright of all human beings. (…) Sadly, … there remain too many countries which continue to criminalize sexual relations between consenting adults of the same sex in defiance of established human rights law. Ironically many of these laws, like Apartheid laws that criminalized sexual relations between consenting adults of different races, are relics of the colonial era and are increasingly becoming recognized as anachronistic and as inconsistent both with international law and with traditional values of dignity, inclusion and respect for all.”

We would have two questions for the delegation:

1) How does the delegation reconcile its acceptance of recommendation 80.38, proposed by Norway, to “repeal all provisions which criminalize sexual activity between consenting adults in conformity with international obligations”, with its rejection of similarly-worded recommendations 81.49, 50 and 51?

2) The delegation has indicated that these issues are “too early to discuss” and will require national consultations.  Could the delegation outline its plan for national consultation to bring its laws into conformity with its international human rights obligations?

Thank you.

Annex 6

UPR: Latvia
ILGA-Europe, COC Netherlands and Mozaika
United Nations Human Rights Council, Geneva. 22nd September 2011

Delivered by Björn van Roozendaal

Madam President,

We would like to thank Latvia for its positive participation in the UPR process and would like to commend Latvia in particular for accepting recommendations to intensify efforts to combat discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity; to provide general information about anti-discrimination and reform the curriculum in schools as to provide information about gender equality, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender and ethnic minorities; and in this regard to engage in awareness raising activities.

Whilst we appreciate Latvia’s pledge to include information on the provision of general information on anti-discrimination issues in its next report, we recommend that the Government establishes a concrete plan of implementation of the measures mentioned in close co-operation and consultation with civil society organisations.  

We are concerned about the rejection of a recommendation to recognise the diversity of family forms and thus we recommend that Latvia reconsiders its position and ensures equal rights between same sex and opposite sex couples in its legislation and policies and ensure that children of LGBT parents are not discriminated against, for example by introducing the possibility of partnership registration.

Furthermore we take note of Latvia’s rejection of recommendations to adopt hate-crime legislation that includes homophobic and transphobic motivation as grounds for offence. Latvia explained that discussions on this have

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