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New guide for NHRIs on protecting LGBTI rights during COVID

Graphic: Nepali women

The new guide supports NHRIs to promote and protect the rights of LGBTI people in the context of COVID-19.

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Asia Pacific Forum LogoAsia Pacific Forum

The APF has published a new resource to support National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) to promote and protect the rights of LGBTI people in the context of COVID-19. 

Since the onset of the pandemic, structural inequalities against historically marginalised communities, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and intersex (LGBTI) people have been exacerbated and made visible. 

The NHRI Guide on responding to COVID-19 impacts on LGBTI people aims to increase NHRIs knowledge and understanding of these issues, and support members to undertake practical steps to protect the rights of LGBTI communities. 

The guide draws on discussions held during an APF online course, delivered as part of a collaboration between the APF and United Nations Development Programme Bangkok Regional Hub (UNDP BRH), which aimed to strengthen the capacity of NHRI staff to promote and protect human rights in relation to sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics (SOGIESC). 

Held in the APF Community, the APF’s online collaboration and learning space, the course consisted of eight online modules and four live sessions, including a session focused on the impacts of COVID-19. 

During the session, NHRIs shared how the pandemic has impacted LGBTI communities in their countries and how they responded to this impact. 

The new guide also incorporates current international research and APF survey data reflecting NHRI best practices. 

Collaborating to protect LGBTI rights 

The APF has been partnering with the UNDP BRH to promote human rights in relation to SOGIESC since 2015. 

In February 2015, the APF and UNDP held a major regional workshop in Bangkok involving representatives from NHRIs and civil society groups, which resulted in a programme of action to advance the rights of LGBTI people in the Asia Pacific.

Graphic: Gay pride flag

The APF and UNDP also worked together in 2016-17 on a regional framework to deliver three sub-regional blended learning training programs to member NHRIs of the APF as well as to LBGTI community groups and individuals. 

The project produced two key resources that were first of its kind for NHRIs: an APF manual for NHRIs on Promoting and Protecting Human Rights in relation to Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Sex Characteristics and its guidelines Part of our Everyday Work: NHRI Guidelines for Mainstreaming SOGISC Work.

In 2017, the APF-UNDP held an international Conference to mark the 10th anniversary of the Yogyakarta Principles ‘Celebrating 10 years of the Yogyakarta Principles: what have we learnt and where to now?’ and in 2018, the partnership supported five NHRIs to implement national projects focused on developing NHRI institutional capacity and their relationship with community groups.

This project has strengthened the APF’s ability to support NHRIs especially in the context of the pandemic, and to identify LGBTI groups as vulnerable communities in crisis situations.

The APF looks forward to continuing to support member NHRIs to promote and protect human rights in relation to SOGIESC.  

Date: 29 April 2022. 

Image credits

  1. Nepali women - Nabaraj Regmi on Shutterstock
  2. Gay pride flag - Carrie Kellenberger, Flickr Creative Commons