UN expert: US is making progress on LGBT rights, but equality is lacking

THE UNITED NATIONS — Tremendous progress has been made over the past 50 years for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the United States, but sadly “equality is not yet within reach and in many cases not in view” for LGBT communities, the UN’s independent expert on sexual orientation and gender identity said on Tuesday.

Victor Madrigal-Borloz told a UN press conference after a 10-day visit to the United States that he applauded President Joe Biden for the “very powerful” executive actions during his first days in office. power to eradicate discrimination and violence against the LGBT community. But he said he was “extremely concerned” about a series of concerted actions at national and local levels based “on prejudice and stigma, to attack and roll back the rights of LGBT people”.

Madrigal-Borloz said that in access to health, employment, education and housing, the LGBT community suffers.

Among young adults ages 18-25, for example, LGBT people have a 2.2 times greater risk of homelessness, 23% of LGBT adults of color lack health coverage, and in a recent study , 43% of lesbian, gay and bisexual participants said they had experienced at least one act of discrimination or harassment, he said.

Madrigal-Borloz, a Costa Rican lawyer and human rights defender, also expressed deep concern over the disproportionate impact of violence against the LGBT community.

He cited the National Crime Victimization Survey which found that 20.3% of hate crimes were related to sexual orientation or gender identity, which is grossly disproportionate to the LGBT population in the United States. , which he says is usually estimated to be between 5% and 8%. He also cited a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study that found that bisexual women were victims of domestic violence at higher rates than other populations, with 46% reporting having been raped and 74.9% reporting having been victims. of sexual violence other than rape, which he called “extremely disturbing.”

Madrigal-Borloz, who was appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council, completed visits to Washington, Birmingham, Alabama, Miami and San Diego at the invitation of the US government. He said he met with more than 70 federal, state and local officials, more than 100 civil society representatives, and people with “lived experience” in the LGBT community.

He stressed that his comments on Tuesday reflected his preliminary observations and that his final report with recommendations will be presented to the Human Rights Council in June 2023.

“The conclusion of my visit at this preliminary moment is that there are significant efforts being made by the current administration to dismantle systems of social exclusion,” Madrigal-Borloz said. But there is also “a significant risk that LGBT people will be caught in what I have described as a counter-current created by all these actions at the local level”.

He said NGOs and human rights advocates have found at least 280 current legislative attempts at the local level that would lead to a regression of LGBT rights, “and also create a terribly polarizing narrative that exacerbates the already high and disturbing risks of violence and discrimination. ”

As examples, Madrigal-Borloz cited Alabama legislation that makes it a crime to provide gender-affirming medical treatment to transgender youth and Florida legislation dubbed “don’t say gay” by opponents who prohibits teachers from talking about sexual orientation or gender identity through the ninth grade. He also cited the limitations of comprehensive sex and gender education and sports participation for transgender people.

He pointed out that there is generally no evidence “that any of these measures should be reasonably considered in a democratic society.”

Madrigal-Borloz, who is also a fellow in the human rights program at Harvard Law School, said the U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to an abortion is also “a devastating action” for lesbian, bisexual and transgender women. This is “because it is members of these communities who also suffer disproportionately from unwanted teenage pregnancies,” he said.

“They also statistically require more abortions,” he said, “and LGBT people in general actually benefit immensely from the sexual and reproductive health services provided by abortion providers in different states, and the closure of these centers will disproportionately affect these people.”

Madrigal-Borloz said suggestions that following the Roe v. Wade decision, other precedents could be overturned could have a huge impact on the LGBT community, particularly if same-sex marriage was outlawed and homosexuality became a criminal act, as it is now in over 65 years. countries.

He also pointed to early statistics showing that 98% of monkeypox cases were in men who have sex with men, which he said “is of great concern to me because it creates a risk of fostering and reducing stigma and stigma.” discrimination against this population.

ABC News

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