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Discussion on De-Criminalizing LGBTI Conduct

Intervention by the Permanent Representative of the Argentine Republic, Amb. Martín García Moritán

December 18


First of all, I would like to congratulate Ambassador Kelly Craft on organizing this excellent event which is helpful to raise awareness on the current challenges that face LGBTI people around the world;

In this difficult international context, Argentina as co-chair of the LGBTI Core Group, considers essential to scale up our efforts to increase an open, respectful and constructive dialogue and cooperation with other Member States and stakeholders outside the Core Group in order to seek common grounds, and one basic common understanding is that “we cannot accept any exception when it comes to the respect for the human rights of all people”;

Regarding the annual activities of the UN LGBTI Core Group, we have been organizing  events during the UN calendar to raise awareness about LGBTI issues, focused on “Ending hate speech against LGBTI people”, “Extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions” among other topics. Furthermore, during the last years the group has considerably increased its membership and we would like to start engaging with those countries that had experienced progress at their national level such as India and Botswana since we strongly believe that they can enrich our current work. We are aware that we need more allies who can share their good practices and create cross regional networks;

In 2010, Argentina became the first Latin American country to legalize same-sex marriage, and we are also very proud to be part of a region in which most countries do not criminalize same sex relationships and LGBTI persons have access to a wide range of rights. However, there are still countries that criminalize same sex relationships in Latin America and the Caribbean and at our national level there is an urgent need to address the pending gaps between legal equality and real equality;

In Argentina same-sex acts between adults has been legal since 1887 when it was enacted the first federal Penal Code that made no reference to consensual sexual acts between adults. Despite this, local regulations issued by provincial, municipal and local authorities still target LGBT persons. As a consequence, I would like to invite you to reflect on the “decriminalization” process in a broader sense that compels us not to focus on our national penal codes but consider other regulations that can prevent LGBTI persons from exercising their most basic human rights such as codes of administrative offenses;

As it has been mentioned several times but it is worth insisting on this, “protecting LGBTI people from violence and discrimination does not require the creation of a new set of LGBT-specific rights, nor does it require the establishment of new international human rights standards”. The legal obligations of States to safeguard the human rights of LGBT people are well established in international human rights law on the basis of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and subsequently agreed international human rights treaties. All people are entitled to enjoy the protections provided by international human rights law, including the respect of the most basic human right to life;

Given the fact that some countries still criminalize consensual same-sex acts between adults, with some even maintaining the death penalty, many LGBTI people are fleeing their home country in search of refuge abroad. That is why asylum laws and policies should recognize persecution on account of one’s sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or sex characteristics as a valid basis for an asylum claim and LGBT and intersex refugees should be treated with respect. It would be interesting to start enhancing our cooperation on this specific topic and share good practices and current initiatives;

I would also like to congratulate the excellent panelists on their insightful presentations and ask them some questions. We agree with the Independent Expert, Victor Madrigal, on the fact that “we hold many identities in one body” and violent actions against a person will often result from intersecting factors that create a continuum of violence and a dynamic of disempowerment. In that sense, I would like to ask the panelists how can we tackle more successfully the aforementioned “broader criminalization” against LGBTI persons in our societies from an intersectional approach?

On another note, I would like to hear their views on how civil society can effectively engage on the ground in the fight against decriminalization towards a change in legislation by seeking the involvement of key decision makers.





Fondo argentino de cooperación sur-sur y triangular