Victor Madrigal-Borloz, UN Independent Expert (IE)
Rainbow Communities Tasmania Inc.'s first basic request is that Victor Madrigal-Borloz, UN Independent Expert (IE), recommend that every UN Country Team has a designated Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) focal point (officer) who is named and promoted on the UN country website, with contact details provided.
This is especially important in the 72 countries that execute, imprison, torture and persecute SOGI people in defiance of the UN Declaration on Human Rights (see the Forced Migration Review 42 of the Oxford University Refugee Studies Centre www.fmreview.org/sogi).
Our work is increasing daily for people like Zahid, from the original invite to visit Bangladesh six years ago to the present, with an increasing number of SOGI people in nine SOGI persecuting countries who could form a reliable consultative and policy/practice base representing the 10% calculated population base in all countries. They are also confirming the critical importance of the SOGI focal point who would not provide support or assistance to individuals, but have four functions in particular:
Collect and provide information on the country situation on SOGI to the UN Independent Expert;
Provide information in-country about UN policies and activities in relation to SOGI;
Refer SOGI enquirers to the relevant UN agency or entity appropriate to the issue the enquirer raises;
Engage with CSOs/NGOs, in particular those dealing with human rights issues generally and those dealing specifically with issues relating to the human rights of SOGI persons.
From our growing experience we also want to request that the Independent Expert devote one of his periodic reports to the Human Rights Council or to the General Assembly on the issue of international protection for persons who experience, or are at risk of, persecution on the basis of SOGI. The report could draw on the experiences of those like Zahid who are in touch with us. The report could examine:
Why international protection is required;
The responsibilities of UN entities, like UNHCR;
The responsibilities of individual States.
I believe these requests are entirely consistent with the mandate of the Independent Expert as below:
Assessing implementation of human rights standards;
Identifying best practices and gaps;
Raising awareness of these issues;
Identifying and addressing the root causes of violence and discrimination;
Engaging in dialogue and consulting with States and other relevant stakeholders to foster the protection of LGBT and gender-diverse persons;
Facilitating and supporting the provision of advisory services, technical assistance, capacity-building and international cooperation to combat violence and discrimination.
We understand that the IE also has a function of following up on individual complaints. He ‘transmits urgent appeals and letters of allegation to states with regard to cases of violence and discrimination against persons on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity’.
While we understand that this is a subject of dangerous and life threatening implications for the complainant, the IE can’t transmit an urgent appeal or letter of allegation without naming the person at risk, yet naming the person can increase the risk immeasurably.
From our experience we would request the IE seek additional guidance as to how this function can be exercised in the context of SOGI where the risks are so great if persons are identified.
What avenues are there to perform this function without identifying individuals at risk?
What re-assurance can be given to complainants that complaining to the IE will not make their situation worse?
A guidance note that addresses these issues would be of assistance to the individuals concerned and would also assist the IE to perform his mandate more effectively. In normal life the issue of ‘sanctuary’ is critical. I would also add that this is the situation that all SOGI people seeking Humanitarian or Protection visas face in their home countries as well as ‘honour’ killings’ in their planning and execution cross over national boundaries.
It is also an issue of importance in the training and credentialing of anybody working with SOGI people from the 72 countries in question. In our organisation we are responsible independently and secretly for the SOGI work in the 72 countries. We have had some instances where information on SOGI people has leaked out of ‘diplomatic’ International organisation with terrible consequences.
We have a unique and growing experience of the terrible abuse of SOGI human rights in so many countries, but also solutions from the right to self-determination of many courageous SOGI people in supporting the work of the SOGI IE.