Table 8: LGBTI Health and Freedom of Assembly and Association
Examples of Human Rights Violations

  • A government prohibits and criminalizes any associations for promotion of LGBTI rights, or refuses to register an LGBTI association.
  • A gay pride parade is banned by city authorities.
  • Police allow individuals opposing a LGBTI rights protest to commit violent acts against those protesting.

Yogyakarta Principle

Principle 20: Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association, including for the purposes of peaceful demonstrations, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Persons may form and have recognised, without discrimination, associations based on sexual orientation or gender identity, and associations that distribute information to or about, facilitate communication among, or advocate for the rights of, persons of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities.

States shall:

• Take all necessary legislative, administrative and other measures to ensure the rights to peacefully organise, associate, assemble and advocate around issues of sexual orientation and gender identity, and to obtain legal recognition for such associations and groups, without discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity;

• Ensure in particular that notions of public order, public morality, public health and public security are not employed to restrict any exercise of the rights to peaceful assembly and association solely on the basis that it affirms diverse sexual orientations or gender identities;

• Under no circumstances impede the exercise of the rights to peaceful assembly and association on grounds relating to sexual orientation or gender identity, and ensure that adequate police and other physical protection against violence or harassment is afforded to persons exercising these rights;

• Provide training and awareness-raising programmes to law enforcement authorities and other relevant officials to enable them to provide such protection; and

• Ensure that information disclosure rules for voluntary associations and groups do not, in practice, have discriminatory effects for such associations and groups addressing issues of sexual orientation or gender identity, or for their members.

Human Rights Standards  Treaty Body Interpretation
ICCPR 21 The right of peaceful assembly shall be recognized. No restrictions may be placed on the exercise of this right other than those imposed in conformity with the law and which are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, public order (ordre public), the protection of public health or morals or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

ICCPR 22 Everyone shall have the right to freedom of association with others, including the right to form and join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

HRC General Comment 34: Where States rely on restrictions to the right to freedom of assembly and association, they must ensure that the laws restricting the rights are compatible with the provisions, aims and objectives of the ICCPR and must not violate the non-discrimination provisions of the Covenant.  CCPR/C/GC/34 (2011) at para 26.

HRC: recommending that Russia should “take all necessary measures to guarantee the exercise and practice of the right to peaceful association and assembly for the LGBT community.” CCPR/C/RUS/CO/6 (2009) at para. 27(c).

Human Rights Standards Case Law
ECHR 11(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and to freedom of association with others, including the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

ECHR 11(2) No restrictions shall be placed on the exercise of these rights other than such as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others. This Article shall not prevent the imposition of lawful restrictions on the exercise of these rights by members of the armed forces, of the police or of the administration of the State.

ECtHR: the Court held that refusal to grant permission for proposed demonstration on LGBT rights violated the Convention. Genderdoc-M v. Moldova, 9106/06 (June 12, 2012).

ECtHR: the Court held that banning the Pride March in 2006, 2007 and 2008 interfered with the applicant’s freedom of assembly guaranteed by the Convention. Alekseyev v. Russia, 4916/07, 25924/08, 14599/09 (Oct. 21, 2010).

ECtHR: the Court declared the ban on LGBT pride march in Warsaw in 2005 illegal and discriminatory. Baczkowski and Others v. Poland, 1543/06 (May 3, 2007).

Other Interpretations

Special Representative of the Secretary-General on human rights defenders: In numerous cases from all regions, police or government officials are the alleged perpetrators of violence and threats against defenders of LGBTI rights. In several of these cases, the authorities have prohibited demonstrations, conferences and meetings, denied registration of organizations working for LGBTI rights and police officers have, allegedly, beaten up or even sexually abused these defenders of LGBTI rights. The authorities have generally attempted to justify action against these defenders by arguing that “the public” does not want these demonstrations to take place, or these organizations need to be registered, or that “the people” do not want LGBTI people in their community. The Special Representative recalls articles 2 and 12 of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders to remind States of their responsibility for protecting defenders against violence and threats. States are also responsible for, inter alia, ensuring that all programmes for training of law enforcement officers and public officials include appropriate elements of human rights teaching (art. 15).  A/HRC/4/37 (2007) at para. 96.

SR on contemporary forms of racism: Laws that prohibit public promotion of homosexuality or homosexual propaganda may silence any discussion of sexuality in the public sphere. States should ensure that LGBTI marches, parades and other gatherings are not denied permits because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and States should take steps to stop violence from spectators of such gatherings.  E/CN.4/2006/16/Add.1 at para. 72.

Special Representative of Human Rights Defenders, SR Racism, SR Violence against Women, and SR Health: Laws that criminalize persons seeking same sex relationships and marriage, as well as organizations working on or speaking about such issues contravene the right to freedom of assembly and association.  UN Press Release, Independent UN experts express serious concern over draft Nigerian bill outlawing same-sex relationships (HR/07/25), 23 February 2007.