Table 9: LGBTI Health and Freedom of Expression and Information

Examples of Human Rights Violations 

  • Young people are denied information about HIV and AIDS, safer sex, and condoms, as well as about sexual behaviors such as homosexuality.
  • A state agency in charge of newspaper distribution refuses to distribute an LGBTI publication.
  • A trans-gender student is forced by school authorities to dress according to his “biological sex.”

Yogyakarta Principle

Principle 19: Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. This includes the expression of identity or personhood through speech, deportment, dress, bodily characteristics, choice of name, or any other means, as well as the freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, including with regard to human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity, through any medium and regardless of frontiers.

States shall:

• Take all necessary legislative, administrative and other measures to ensure full enjoyment of freedom of opinion and expression, while respecting the rights and freedoms of others, without discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, including the receipt and imparting of information and ideas concerning sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as related advocacy for legal rights, publication of materials, broadcasting, organisation of or participation in conferences, and dissemination of and access to safer-sex information;

• Ensure that the outputs and the organisation of media that is State-regulated is pluralistic and non-discriminatory in respect of issues of sexual orientation and gender identity and that the personnel recruitment and promotion policies of such organisations are nondiscriminatory on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity;

• Take all necessary legislative, administrative and other measures to ensure the full enjoyment of the right to express identity or personhood, including through speech, deportment, dress, bodily characteristics, choice of name or any other means;

• Ensure that notions of public order, public morality, public health and public security are not employed to restrict, in a discriminatory manner, any exercise of freedom of opinion and expression that affirms diverse sexual orientations or gender identities;

• Ensure that the exercise of freedom of opinion and expression does not violate the rights and freedoms of persons of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities; and

• Ensure that all persons, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, enjoy equal access to information and ideas, as well as to participation in public debate.

Human Rights Standards Treaty Body Interpretation
ICCPR 21 (1) Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference.

ICCPR 21 (2) Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.

ICCPR 21 (3) The exercise of the rights provided for in paragraph 2 of this article carries with it special duties and responsibilities. It may therefore be subject to certain restrictions, but these shall only be such as are provided by law and are necessary:

(a) For respect of the rights or reputations of others;

(b) For the protection of national security or of public order (ordre public), or of public health or morals.

HRC General Comment No. 34: explaining that where States rely on restrictions to the right to freedom of expression and information, 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 “take all necessary measures to guarantee the exercise in practice of the right to peaceful association and assembly for the LGBT community.” CCPR/C/RUS/CO/6 (2009) at para 27.

CRC 13(1) The child shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of the child’s choice.

CRC 17 States Parties recognize the important function performed by the mass media and shall ensure that the child has access to information and material from a diversity of national and international sources, especially those aimed at the promotion of his or her social, spiritual and moral well-being and physical and mental health.

CRC General Comment 3: explaining that adolescent’s right to information about HIV and AIDS is part of the right to information.  CRC/GC/2003/3 (2003) at para. 4.

Other Interpretations

SR Education: “In order to be comprehensive, sexual education must pay special attention to diversity, since everyone has the right to deal with his or her own sexuality without being discriminated against on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity. Sexual education is a basic tool for ending discrimination against persons of diverse sexual orientations.”  A/65/162 (July 23, 2010), para. 22.

SR Freedom of Expression and Information: Has commented on or expressed concern about: the abuse of the rights of sex workers and LGBTI persons; restrictions on public speech and denial of HIV and AIDS information to these communities; detention of persons in Kuwait because of a letter mentioning a lesbian relationship, and the arrests and harassment of two gender-non-conforming women in Uganda.

SR Human Rights Defenders, SR Racism, SR Violence against Women, and SR Health: Collectively criticized a Bill in Nigeria that would criminalize persons seeking same sex relationships and marriage, as well as organizations working on or speaking about such issues (2007).  HR/07/25 (Feb. 23, 2007). http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=5599&LangID=E.