Specifically referencing the Orthodox Church, this United Nations activist called for decisive action against any religions which oppose homosexual behavior.
A UN expert charged with promoting LGBT rights around the world called on governments to take action against religions that don’t embrace LGBT rights.
In his latest report to the General Assembly, Victor Madrigal-Borloz said, “States should adopt decisive action when religious authorities, leaders or agents infringe on the rights of LGBT persons through violence and discrimination, including hate speech.”
In his report Madrigal-Borloz, the UN Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, equates any kind of religious or political narrative that does not endorse LGBT rights with incitement to violence. He calls on governments to respond forcefully.
“There is abundant information about the dissemination of expressions that constitute hate speech by representatives of churches and faith-based groups, and incitement often leads to actions that infringe on other rights, including the right to personal integrity,” Madrigal-Borloz says in his report.
Madrigal-Borloz adds that “incitement and actual violence is enabled or carried out by religious leaders or agents in many ways. In some contexts, it is religion that is used as an explanation for the imposition of penalties that include the death penalty for homosexuality.”
The report highlights only one case of what it characterizes as religious incitement to violence against individuals who identify as LGBT. An LGBT pride event was prevented from taking place in Tiblisi, Georgia in 2013 after the Orthodox Patriarch asked authorities to block it. When the government would not cancel the event, thousands of protesters took to the streets to stop it. The UN report blames the Orthodox Church for the confrontations that ensued at that event, and that resulted in injuries to 17 people, including three police officers and two journalists.
Madrigal-Borloz’s report also laments cultural expressions “that can lead to increased psychological distress for LGBT persons” like Jamaican dancehall music because it “often speaks of beating and shooting gay men” and “appears to play a role in promoting anti-gay violence.”
The report’s overall theme is social inclusion. It calls on states to adopt a panoply of laws and policies to prevent discrimination against individuals who identify as LGBT in a variety of contexts including education, health-care, humanitarian interventions, disabilities, and aging.
The report recommends including gender-neutral bathrooms in humanitarian camps. It recommends the adoption of “comprehensive sexuality education” that calls for kids to learn about masturbation and homosexuality. The report also calls for the legal recognition of same-sex couples in contexts such as housing an employment. And it calls for reparations for past “pathologization, criminalization or any other stigmatizing processes.”
The creation of Madrigal-Borloz’s mandate three years ago resulted in a contentious vote in the General Assembly that nearly abolished it. “Sexual orientation” and “gender identity” have never been protected categories in international law. The establishment of the mandate is a stepping stone to make that a reality.
The mandate was renewed this summer for another three years despite another contentious vote. But resistance to the mandate has waned since 2016. It is unclear if the mandate will be challenged again in the General Assembly as it was three years ago when it was first created.