Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression and Sex Characteristics

Every person has the right to be treated equally and to live a life free from discrimination and persecution. However, in the Commonwealth, nearly two-thirds of countries still criminalise same-sex activity between adults and many people continue to face discrimination, violence and abuse because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity or expression or because of their sex characteristics (SOGIESC).

This persecution manifests through hate crimes and hate speech, physical and psychological violence, as well as practices such as forced marriage, corrective rape, arbitrary detention and extrajudicial killing. Furthermore, people who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex (LGBTI) often face additional barriers accessing health care, education and employment, and are at greater risk of being subjected to non-consensual, invasive procedures.

As National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs), it is our duty to promote, protect and advance human rights for all, and make sure that international commitments to human rights leads to real change on the ground for all citizens.

NHRIs across the Commonwealth are committed to working to advance rights, respect and equality for LGBTI people, and to eliminate discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. At a domestic level, NHRIs work with civil society organisations, businesses, and governments to address barriers that prevent LGBTI people from being able to participate equally in society and live their lives openly and without fear of violence and persecution.

Internationally, NHRIs engage with UN human rights mechanisms to provide an authoritative voice on the human rights situation in their respective States. The implementation of human rights relating to sexual orientation and gender identity are promoted and protected through Treaty Bodies, the Universal Periodic Review, and the Independent Expert on SOGI Rights.

The CFNHRI supports our members to work on rights related to SOGIESC through capacity building, providing opportunities for NHRIs to share their expertise and best practice, and through information and intelligence gathering. Through established relationships with other networks and forums we continue to enhance these opportunities, and drive progress on these rights and issues at a regional and global level.

SOGI’s Story

Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity is pervasive across many parts of the world. Addressing this burden of discrimination has been identified as a key issue by the Commonwealth Forum of National Human Rights Institutions (CFNHRI).

SOGI’s Story is based on research undertaken by the Australian Human Rights Centre (AHRCentre), Faculty of Law, University of New South Wales, Sydney and commissioned by the Australian Human rights Commission and the CFNHRI. Visit the SOGI Story website.


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