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Reference on sexual orientation and gender identity

Graphic: Rainbow flag

In May 2009, the APF brought together member institutions to discuss the role of national human rights institutions in promoting implementation of the Yogyakarta Principles on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.

The APF subsequently requested the ACJ to undertake a reference on the issue and provide advice and recommendations on the question of the consistency or inconsistency with international human rights law of certain laws in the Asia Pacific region in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity.

Members of the ACJ met to consider the reference and to present their interim findings during the APF's 15th Annual Meeting in Bali from 3 - 5 August 2010.

The final report of the ACJ was released in December 2010.

In summary, the report finds that the interpretation of international human rights law by the UN treaty bodies, special procedures and regional human rights mechanisms evince a clear acknowledgment that sexual orientation and gender identity are among the grounds of discrimination proscribed by international human rights law.

The report includes a series of recommendations and highlights the need for all national human rights institutions to consider action in several key areas, including the:

  • Enactment or strengthening of anti-discrimination legislation to specifically prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity
  • Enactment of legislation or policies permitting the recognition of changes to gender
  • Interpretation and application of religious and customary laws and practices in accordance with international human rights and freedoms
  • Decriminalisation of same sex sexual conduct between consenting adults in those countries where criminal provisions either apply or remain on the statute books.

Image credits

  1. Rainbow flag - essygie, Flickr