Advocacy at the Human Rights Council sessions
GIN-SSOGIE has been very active at the United Nations Human Rights Council sessions since 2017, taking part in multiple sessions, organising side events, and contributing to the drafting of reports of UN Special Procedures, including the UN Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. Our focus has been to promote the voices of LGBTI leaders of faith, and combat conservative notions of gender, sexuality, traditional values, culture and family, through two of our projects: the GIN Speakers Bureau and the regional seminar series on “Family and Traditional Values“.
Following our advocacy activities of 2019, including a side event on “Religious Communities Affirming LGBTIQ People around the world” during the 41st session of HRC, co-sponsored by the delegations of Uruguay and Canada (July 2019) and one on “Pre-colonial Societies on Gender and Sexuality” during the 42nd session of HRC, co-sponsored by the delegations of South Africa and Iceland, we have kept with our key partners, including COC Netherlands, to develop our advocacy strategy for 2020 and beyond.
We took part in the latest Human Rights Council session, in Geneva (March 2020). Numerous reports were being presented to the Council by Special Rapporteur (further information on UN Special Procedures can be found here) including by Dr Shaheed, Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief (full report here). After participating actively in the drafting of Dr Shaheed’s latest report at the end of last year, GIN-SSOGIE took this opportunity to engage further. Our programme manager Simon Petitjean, made a statement to welcome the report and its inclusion of LGBT people. We reinforced how much all states must combat religious fundamentalism and that freedom of religion or belief and non-discrimination must be two mutually reinforcing rights (you may find the full text below and the recorded video here – @6min30sec).
2020 Plans reconfigured
In addition, GIN-SSOGIE had planned a side event, co-organised with the International Family Equality Day (IFED), to discuss the realities of diverse families around the world including GIN speakers, UN Women and UNICEF. Yet, the rest of the 43rd council session was cancelled due to the spread of the coronavirus. We decided to cancel our plans to ensure the safety of everyone, including our speakers from Belize, South Africa and Australia/Samoa. We are planning this side event in the upcoming 44th HRC session, online.
We will also organise another side event during the 45th HRC session and continued advocacy towards state delegations and UN representatives. We will also keep contributing to UN Special Procedures reports, to include data and inputs shared by our member organisations. This will include to continue work with the UN SOGI Expert, amongst others.
Keep an eye on our website and social media for continued information. And please stay safe everyone.
43rd Session of the Human Rights Council
Interactive Dialogue, Item 3
March 2, 2020
Delivered by: Simon Petitjean
Thank you, Vice President,
My name is Simon Petitjean. I am a trans man of faith, and I work for the South Africa-based organization, the Global Interfaith Network for People of All SSOGIE. I am delivering this statement on behalf of 400 faith leaders, advocates and organizations.
We welcome the report of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief addressing gender-based violence and discrimination in the name of religion or belief, including against the LGBT+ community. Freedom of religion or belief and non-discrimination must be two mutually reinforcing rights.
We are brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, cousins, nieces, nephews, grandsons and granddaughters. For some of us, our families, societies and governments have welcomed us as we are. But many of us have been rejected, resulting in social exclusion, unemployment, lack of access to decent housing, labour, education and health care.
In the face of so much adversity and violence, our faith is a pillar of support in our life. Our faith is not exclusionary. We wish to welcome all with open arms, knowing that spirituality is lived in communion with our fellow human beings.
Yet, as underlined in the Special Rapporteur’s report, we are increasingly seeing fundamentalist communities using the right to freedom of religion and belief to instigate hatred towards LGBT+ people. Many individuals have been physically assaulted and killed as a consequence.
There is a long history of the acceptance of sexual and gender diversity in different religions and faith traditions around the world. Human rights are indivisible and these mutually enforcing rights should not be divided based solely on the interpretation of the few. We call on the Human Rights Council to ensure the protection of the rights of all citizens.
May our differences and unique diversities be a source of celebration and not the cause to deny us our rights.
Thank you, Vice President.