Oral Intervention to Human Rights Council on Human Rights

Delivered by Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera on 10th June 2013

(Human Rights Council, 23rd session, Item 8 General Debate)

Over the past two years this Council has made significant progress in discussing human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity. In her report on Discriminatory Laws and Practices and Acts of Violence against Individuals based on their Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, the High Commissioner noted that indeed the Council was required to address incidents of violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity given its mandate to promote “universal respect for the protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, without distinction of any kind and in a fair and equal manner”.

Continuing serious violations, repeated acts of discrimination and violence around the world, demonstrate the importance of addressing this matter.

In the East and Horn of Africa, minority persons continue to find their basic rights and freedoms under severe attack, as well as those HRDs who are working to protect their rights. They are subjected to physical violence and sexual abuse, excluded from accessing healthcare, education and employment opportunities, as well as being the target of a continuing media witch-hunt.

In the last year, we have also seen the interruption of gay pride parades, the closure of human rights workshops, illegal arrests of activists, and a crackdown on the right to freedom of artistic expression and creativity with bans on plays touching on issues of sexual orientation. Organisations working on these issues have been threatened with closure.This situation is real; these abuses are unacceptable.

We call on states to take concrete action to allow minority people to live lives of dignity and to enjoy their inherent fundamental rights like any other human being, by reforming discriminatory laws and holding perpetrators of violations to account.

The Human Rights Council must also continue to play its role and keep a sustained focus on this issue.

I thank you Mr President.


Human Rights Defender of the month: Veronica Almedom

Veronica Almedom is a poster child of successful immigration. A duo Eritrean and Swiss citizen, she was born in Italy, and grew up in Switzerland where she permanently resides. Her parents are some of the earliest victims of Eritrea’s cycles of violence. When Eritrea’s war of independence peaked in the early 1980s, they escaped the country as unaccompanied minors, wandering through Sudan, Saudi Arabia, before making the hazard journey across the Mediterranean into Europe. There, they crossed first to Italy, and finally, to Switzerland, where they settled first as refugees, and later, as permanent residents.