Table 1: LGBTI Health and the Right to Life

Examples of Human Rights Violations 

  • National laws which impose the death penalty for sexual activity between persons of the same sex.
  • Police officers are not tried or prosecuted for the rape and murder of a homeless transgender person.
  • LGBTI communities are denied access to services to prevent HIV.
  • No laws are in place prohibiting hate crimes, including violence against LGBTI persons, which means police fail to investigate murders of LGBTI persons.

Yogyakarta Principle

Principle 4: Everyone has the right to life. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of life, including by reference to considerations of sexual orientation or gender identity. The death penalty shall not be imposed on any person on the basis of consensual sexual activity among persons who are over the age of consent or on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
States shall:
  • Repeal crimes that have the purpose or effect of prohibiting consensual sexual activity among persons of the same sex who are over the age of consent and, until such provisions are repealed, never impose the death penalty on any person convicted under them;
  • Remit sentences of death and release all those currently awaiting execution for crimes relating to consensual sexual activity among persons who are over the age of consent; and
  • Cease any State-sponsored or State-condoned attacks on the lives of person based on sexual orientation or gender identity, and ensure that all such attacks, whether by government officials or by an individual or group, are vigorously investigated, and that, where appropriate evidence is found, those responsible are prosecuted, tried and duly punished.
Human Rights Standards Treaty Body Interpretation
ICCPR 6(1) Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life.

ICCPR 6(2) In countries which have not abolished the death penalty, sentence of death may be imposed only for the most serious crimes in accordance with the law in force at the time of the commission of the crime and not contrary to the provisions of the present Covenant and to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. This penalty can only be carried out pursuant to a final judgment rendered by a competent court.

HRC General Comment 6 and 31: States have an obligation to take appropriate measures or to exercise due diligence to prevent, punish, investigate or redress the harm caused by deprivations of life by private entities. They must also prevent deprivation of life by their own agents. This includes where victims are deprived of life on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity. HRC General Comment No. 6 (1982) at para. 3; and HRC General Comment 31, CCPR/C/21/Rev.1/Add. 13 (2004) at para. 8.

HRC: recommending that El Salvador “should provide effective protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation.” CCPR/CO/78/SLV (2003) at para. 16.

HRC: recommending that the United States “should ensure that its hate crime legislation, both at the federal and state levels, address sexual orientation-related violence.” CCPR/C/USA/CO/3 (2006) at para. 25.

HRC: recommending that Mongolia “should ensure that LGBT persons have access to justice, and that all allegations of attacks and threats against individuals targeted because of their sexual orientation or gender identity are thoroughly investigated.” CCPR/C/MNG/CO/5 (2011) at para. 9.

HRC: recommending that Jamaica should ensure that individuals, who incite violence against LGBTI persons, are investigated, prosecuted and properly sanctioned. CCPR/C/JAM/CO/3 (2011) at para 8.

HRC: noting to Colombia that the Committee deplores systematic operations targeted at executing homosexuals.  CCPR/C/79/Add.76 (1997) at para. 16.

Human Rights Standards Treaty Body Interpretation
CRC 6 (1) States Parties recognize that every child has the inherent right to life. CRC General Comment No. 3: The obligation to realize the right to life, survival and development also highlights the need to give careful attention to sexuality as well as to the behaviors and lifestyles of children, even if they do not conform with what society determines to be acceptable under prevailing cultural norms. CRC/GC/2003/3 (2003) at para. 11.
Human Rights Standards Case Law
ECHR 2(1) Everyone’s right to life shall be protected by law. No one shall be deprived of his life intentionally save in the execution of a sentence of a court following his conviction of a crime for which this penalty is provided by law.
ACHR 4(1) Every person has the right to have his life respected. This right shall be protected by law and, in general, from the moment of conception. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life.

Other Interpretations

SR on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions: Capital punishment should not be applied to “moral” offences. States must prevent and investigate the killing of sexual minorities by non-state actors.

SR on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions: “Acts of murder and death threats should be promptly and thoroughly investigated regardless of the sexual orientation of the victims.  Measures by the State to protect the security and right to life of sexual minorities should include policies and programmes geared towards overcoming hatred and prejudice against homosexuals and sensitizing public officials and the general public to crimes and acts of violence directed against members of sexual minorities … Matters of sexual orientation should under no circumstances be punishable by death.”  Report of the Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, E/CN.4/2000/3 (2002) at para. 116.

SR on Health: “Sanctioned punishments by States reinforce existing prejudices and legitimizes community violence and police brutality directed at affected individuals … The Special Rapporteur believes that the imposition of the death penalty for consensual same sex conduct is not only unconscionable, but further represents arbitrary deprivation of life, constituting an infringement of the right to life recognized in article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.” Report of the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, A/HRC/14/20 (2010) at para. 20.