Speak Up & Speak Out: Protecting Freedom of Expression for LGBT People

Speak Up & Speak Out: Protecting Freedom of Expression for LGBT People - Civic Space

Each year on 17 May, International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO-T) is an opportunity to celebrate progress made and highlight challenges that still remain in securing fundamental human rights for LBGT people and those who speak out about issues affecting them.

This year, on 17 May over 170 organisations around the world have come together to call on the international community to do more to ensure everyone has the freedom to express himself or herself and share information regardless of their sexual orientation or gender.

A large percentage of the world’s population lives in countries where freedom of expression and information is restricted for a variety of explicit reasons, including sexual orientation or gender identity. In some instances there is discriminatory legislation that criminalises the open discussion of LGBT issues. Other times activists or the media self-censor due to an environment of pervasive violence and intimidation.

This year, in light of the increasing attacks on the freedom of expression of LGBT individuals and activists through the introduction of restrictive legislation in countries around the world, the theme for IDAHO-T is freedom of expression. To mark the day we call on world leaders to ensure that all people can speak their minds without fearing violence or intimidation, no matter what their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Speak Up and Speak Out: Protecting Freedom of Expression for LGBT People

On the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO-T), May 17, we call on all leaders in the world to ensure that all people can speak their minds without fearing violence or intimidation, no matter what their sexual orientation or gender identity.

States have a responsibility under international law to ensure this happens.

We call on Heads of States to protect freedom of expression for all people.

Free expression for all

Freedom of expression, online and offline, is a fundamental right that cannot be denied on the basis of a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. This is international law.

Too many people are silenced because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, or for speaking out on issues affecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. This is unacceptable.

We all have the right to information about sexual orientation and gender identity. This is essential to the exercise of all human rights for all people.

A free, independent and diverse media is crucial to inform the public and for giving LGBT voices the platform to speak out on issues that affect them. Through self-regulation, the media has a social and moral responsibility to play a role in combatting discrimination and promoting understanding between groups, as outlined in the Camden Principles on Freedom of Expression and Equality.

Stop violence and intimidation

Every day, across the world, LGBT people and others speaking out to defend equality are attacked just for expressing their identities and views, for talking about sexual orientation or gender identity, or proudly marching in the streets to defend their rights.

Violence and intimidation are the ultimate form of censorship. Impunity for these abuses is rife.

States must make sure that human rights abuses that seek to silence LGBT people are investigated speedily, effectively and independently in compliance with international legal standards. Perpetrators and instigators must be brought to justice, and redress provided to survivors.

Public officials are under a duty to condemn these attacks.

Repeal Discriminatory Laws

A majority of the world’s population live in countries with laws that criminalise LGBT identities or ban sharing information and ideas about sexual orientation or gender identity. Homosexual acts are illegal in 81 countries and punishable by death in 10 countries.

The situation is getting worse. More States are considering or enacting laws that ban “propaganda of homosexuality” – saying anything positive about LGBT rights, joining a march or parade, or a support group or campaign group, can result in prosecution, imprisonment or worse.

This affects all of us. With laws restricting what we can or can’t say about sexual orientation and gender identity we all are worse off. It deprives all people of essential information, including in relation to accessing HIV prevention and treatment programmes. Public health practitioners, educators and human rights defenders are put in particular danger.

States must repeal all laws that discriminate against LGBT people, including by restricting what information they share or can access.

We all have the right to express our identities and speak out about issues around sexual orientation and gender identities. Whether on the street, in an association or assembly, in school, university or online, we should be free to speak without fear of violence, intimidation or prosecution.

Signed by:

Adil Soz – International Foundation for Protection of Freedom of Speech
Albanian Media Institute
Arabic Network for Human Rights Information
Association for Civil Rights
Cambodian Center for Human Rights
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression
Center for Independent Journalism – Romania
Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility
Centre for Independent Journalism – Malaysia
Centro de Archivos y Acceso a la Información Pública
Centro de Reportes Informativos sobre Guatemala – CERIGUA
Centro Nacional de Comunicación Social
Comité por la Libre Expresión – C-Libre
Espacio Público
Foro de Periodismo Argentino
Foundation for Press Freedom – FLIP
Freedom Forum
Freedom House
Fundamedios – Andean Foundation for Media Observation and Study
Globe International Center
I’lam Media Center for Arab Palestinians in Israel
Index on Censorship
Initiative for Freedom of Expression – Turkey
Institute for the Studies on Free Flow of Information
Institute of Mass Information
Maharat Foundation
Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance
Media Foundation for West Africa
National Union of Somali Journalists
PEN American Center
PEN International
Public Association “Journalists”
Reporters Without Borders
Southeast Asian Press Alliance
#ENDhatelaws Coalition
Ação Educativa
ACCSI Acción Ciudadana Contra el Sida
Afectadas por el VIH-Sida en Honduras (APUVIMEH)
African Network for Prevention and Protection of Child Abuse and Neglect (ANPPCAN) – Malawi Chapter
Akahata AC
Akham algeria
Albanian Helsinki Committee
Amnesty International
APUVIMEH – Honduras
Arab Foundation for Freedoms and Equality
Área de Derechos Humanos
Arus Pelangi
Asociación Civil CAMBIO y ACCIÓN
Asociación Para Una Vida Mejor de Personas Infectadas
Associação ILGA Portugal – Intervenção Lésbica, Gay, Bissexual e Transgénero
Association for Progressive Communications
Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID)
Associazione radicale Certi Diritti
Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice
Avers in Samara
Bandhu Social Welfare Society, Bangladesh
BeLonG To
Blue Diamond Society, Nepal
CamASEAN Youth’s Future
Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network
Capital Pride; Canada
Casa Renacer -Honduras
Center for National and International Studies, Azerbaijan
CHERL – Iquitos – Peru
CIVICUS: World Alliance For Citizen Participation
Colectivo TLGB Bolivia
Colors Rainbow (Myanmar)
Comité Idaho France en France
Common Language, China
Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative
Council for Global Equality
DIVERLEX Diversidad e Igualdad a Través de la Ley
Drodrolagi Movement
ECOM – Eurasian Coalition on Male Health
European Parliament Intergroup on LGBT Rights
Fabryka Równości (The Equality Factory)
Federation of Dutch associations for the integration of homosexuality COC Netherlands
Feminist and LGBT Organization “Gender-L” (St.Petersburg)
Fundación Ecuatoriana Equidad
Fundación Ecuatoriana YUNTA
GALANG Philippines
Galha LGBT Humanists
Gay Japan News
Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network
Global Faith and Justice Project
Global Justice Institute
Grupo de Autoapoyo Renacer
Grupo Dignidade
Grupo Lesbico- Bisexual XotchiQuetzal -Honduras
Haus of Khameleon
Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly – Vanadzor
HERA -Health Education and Research Association Macedonia
Human Rights First
Human Rights Movement “Bir Duino-Kyrgyzstan”
Idaho-net Japan
Institute for Development and Community Health – LIGHT
Instituto Brasileiro de Diversidade Sexual
INSTITUTO RUNA de Desarrollo y Estudios sobre Género
International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute
International Federation of Journalists – Asia-Pacific
International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission
International Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Youth and Student Organisation (IGLYO)
International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU)
International IDAHO Committee
International Planned Parenthood Federation
International Service for Human Rights
Iwate Rainbow Network
Kaleidoscope Trust
Kaos GL Association
Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law
Lesbenorganisation Schweiz
Lesbian and Gay Federation in Germany LSVD
Lesbian Section SKUC-LL, Ljubljana, Slovenia
LGBT Centre of Mongolia
LGBT Forum Progress, Montenegro
LGBT Human Rights of Korea
LGBT Organization “Center “Maximum” (Murmansk)
LGBTIQA organisation “Labrys”, Kyrgyzstan
Lietuvos gėjų lyga/Lithuanian Gay League
LLH – the Norwegian Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender organisation
Metropolitan Community Churches
Micro Rainbow International
Moscow LGBT organization “Rainbow Association”
Moses Kimbugwe
National Network Against Homophobia and Transphobia (Macedonia)
Oceania Pride
Oii-Chinese (Organization Intersex International – Chinese)
Pacific Sexual Diversity Network (PSDN)
Pan Africa ILGA
PINK Embassy / LGBT Pro Albania
PinkAnatomy Botswana
Queer Cyprus
Rainbow Action Against Sexual-Minority Discrimination
Rainbow Kanazawa
Regional non-profit Organization “Coming Out” (St. Petersburg)
Roma Women’s Center “Rromnjako Ilo”
Russian LGBT Network
Sarajevo Open Center in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Sexual Rights Centre, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe
Social LGBT Movement “Avers” (Samara)
Social Policies, Gender Identity and Sexual Orriantation Studies Asscociation
Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD), Guyana
Spectrum uganda Initiatives Inc
The Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (ELSAM)
The Rainbow Rights Project
TLF Share
Tonga Leitis Association (TLA)
Trans-Fuzja Foundation
Transgender and Intersex Africa
Trung tâm ICS
Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights (UAF)
Venezuela Diversa Asociación Civil se adhiere
Women Coalition of HKSAR, HONG KONG
Women’s Health and Equal Rights Initiative, Nigeri
World Movement for Democracy
Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights – Brazil
Youth Voices Count