I have the honor to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries; Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Sweden and my own country Norway.
Mr Independent Expert,
First of all, I would like to express our strong support for your mandate and our gratitude for your in-depth report on the wide-ranging and disproportionate implications of the Covid-19 pandemic on LGBTI-persons. We also acknowledge your early outreach in March, bringing together human rights defenders, civil society leaders, scholars and government officials for numerous virtual Town Hall meetings, collecting evidence and perspectives on the implications of the pandemic on sexual and gender minorities.
The stigma and discrimination affecting LGBTI persons, is unacceptable. During the pandemic, lockdowns and other restrictions have led to increased poverty, lack of vital health care, additional social isolation, abuse and violence. We have also noted OHCHR reports of sharp trends in reprisals against LGBTI persons and human rights defenders communicating and cooperating with the UN. Such reprisals are intolerable, and those who are responsible must be held accountable.
We recognize the many initiatives undertaken by civil society organizations to address the dramatic and disproportionate effects of the pandemic on LGBTI persons. Emergency support has been provided to individuals in many countries, including food and shelter, online services and guidance, and legal advice.
However, it does not negate state responsibility to protect the human rights of all persons, and to consider the particular concerns and challenges of LGBTI persons in their Covid-19 response and recovery. We are alarmed by some government measures in different regions introduced to intentionally target or prosecute LGBTI persons. Any emergency measures to fight the pandemic must be necessary, proportionate, non-discriminatory, temporary and in accordance with obligations under international human rights law.
We remain committed to the decriminalization of homosexuality, and to combat discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity in legislation and in practice. We appreciate the ASPIRE guidelines and the recommendations in your report. What immediate steps would you advice governments to take in order to protect LGBTI persons from violence and discrimination in the context of the pandemic? And how can we effectively support LGBTI organizations in a situation where funding is being redistributed?