GIN-SSOGIE took part in the latest Human Rights Council session, in Geneva, earlier this month. 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).
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. Yet, the rest of the 43rd council session was cancelled due to the spread of the coronavirus. We hope everyone is safe at home. We will continue working with our partners to maintain our advocacy efforts at the United Nations, and the voice of civil society groups in high-level political fora.
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.