European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association

United Nations sends strong support to LGBTI people’s right to sexual and reproductive health

On 4 March, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of the United Nations published a General Comment on the right to sexual and reproductive health. The Comment included several references to LGBTI issues. ILGA-Europe is thrilled about the strong support and recommendations outlined in the Comment.

The 16-pages-long General Comment from the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of the United Nations is a gold mine of good argumentation points for the right to sexual and reproductive health for LGBTI people.

Here is a selection of good bits from the Comment relevant to LGBTI people:

  • Intersectional forms of discrimination faced by LGBTI people are a barrier to the full enjoyment of their right to sexual and reproductive health.
  • The right to sexual and reproductive health means: freedoms (right to make decisions free of coercion, discrimination, violence) and entitlements (access to facilities and information).
  • Differences between sexual health (well-being in relation to sexuality) and reproductive health (capability to reproduce and freedom to make decisions).
  • Sexual reproductive health and rights (SRHR) are interdependent with other rights: e.g. with the right to education -> right to sexual education, with the right to work -> “prohibition of discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status(page 3).
  • SRHR are an integral part of the right to health, and as such, comprise four key elements: availability, accessibility, acceptability and quality.  Sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status were expressly mentioned under Accessibility (page 5).   
  • Focus on non-discrimination, and in particular on the rights of LGBTI people to be fully respected, criminalisation of same-sex relations is a violation of human rights, as well as pathologisation, conversion therapies and “State parties also have an obligation to combat homophobia and transphobia, which lead to discrimination, including violation of the right to sexual and reproductive health” (page 6).
  •  “LGBTI persons, and people living with HIV/AIDS are more likely to experience multiple discrimination” (page 8).

Furthermore, the Committee calls on states to combat gender norms that perpetuate inequalities and discrimination. Eventually, the last part of the Comment lists current violations of SRHR and mentions that laws prescribing forced sterilisation violate the ‘obligation to respect’ in the context of legal gender recognition.

Lastly, the Committee point out that the failure to prevent violence targeting LGBTI persons is a violation to the ‘obligation to protect’, as well as “medically unnecessary, irreversible and involuntary surgery and treatment performed on intersex infants or children” (page 15). The Committee further mentions the need to reform laws that criminalise transgender identity or expression.


Download the General Comment here