Documenting the capacity of national human rights institutions
Graphic: Woman holding a rainbow umbrella
Over the year to March 2013, the APF, the International Development Law Organization, UNDP and SAARCLAW (the legal apex body of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) have worked with NHRIs in Bangladesh,India, Indonesia, Nepal, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Timor Leste to document their capacity to promote the rights of people of diverse sexual orientation and gender identity and to respond to human rights violations.
The project also engaged community based organisations to hear the perspectives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and to participate in dialogue with the NHRIs.
The process revealed strong NHRI efforts to build institutional capacity in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity rights and to foster relationships with LGBT communities. Highlights included:
- The National Human Rights Commission of Nepal maintains a long-standing relationship with the Blue Diamond Society, the national network of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons. In 2012, the NHRC Nepal initiated an internship for a LGBT representative, to promote its own understanding and build community capacity in human rights.
- The Chair of the Commission for Human Rights of the Philippines established SOGI and HIV-related rights as an emerging priority. Over the past three years, the CHR Philippines surveyed its own capacity relating to sexual orientation and gender identity and HIV. It also conducted topical capacity-building workshops for its personnel in Cebu City and Davao City.
A second area in which NHRIs have demonstrated a strong response is advocacy. Highlights included:
- In October 2012, the National Human Rights Commission of Bangladesh submitted a report as part of its State's participation in the 16th session of the Universal Periodic Review. For the first time, the NHRC added a section on other minority groups which directly advocated for the rights of people of diverse sexual orientation and gender identity: "The NHRC Bangladesh believes that it is now time to ensure that all groups, including those who are transgender, intersex or sexual minority, are protected from discrimination."
- In 2012, Indonesia's National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) successfully advocated for the rights of people of diverse sexual orientation and gender identity. It mediated a consensus-based solution to the allegedly deliberate harassment and bullying of feminine and gay men on a reality television program.
The initiative was supported by UNDP Asia-Pacific Regional Centre under two multi-country Global Fund Programmes in South Asia and Insular Southeast Asia.
- Woman holding a rainbow umbrella - Sunxez, Flickr; http://bit.ly/1E9564c