Speak Up and Speak Out: Protecting Freedom of Expression for LGBT People

Thursday, April 17, 2014
CJFE adds its voice to a list of organizations that are urging world leaders to recognize, respect, and protect the free expression rights of LGBT people. On the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO-T), May 17, we call on all leaders in the world to ensure that all people can speak their minds without fearing violence or intimidation, no matter what their sexual orientation or gender identity. States have a responsibility under international law to ensure this happens. We call on Heads of States to protect freedom of expression for all people. FREE EXPRESSION FOR ALL Freedom of expression, online and offline, is a fundamental right that cannot be denied on the basis of a person's sexual orientation or gender identity. This is international law. Too many people are silenced because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, or for speaking out on issues affecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. This is unacceptable. We all have the right to information about sexual orientation and gender identity. This is essential to the exercise of all human rights for all people. A free, independent and diverse media is crucial to inform the public and for giving LGBT voices the platform to speak out on issues that affect them. Through self-regulation, the media has a social and moral responsibility to play a role in combatting discrimination and promoting understanding between groups, as outlined in the Camden Principles on Freedom of Expression and Equality. STOP VIOLENCE AND INTIMIDATION Every day, across the world, LGBT people and others speaking out to defend equality are attacked just for expressing their identities and views, for talking about sexual orientation or gender identity, or proudly marching in the streets to defend their rights. Violence and intimidation are the ultimate form of censorship. Impunity for these abuses is rife. States must make sure that human rights abuses that seek to silence LGBT people are investigated speedily, effectively and independently in compliance with international legal standards. Perpetrators and instigators must be brought to justice, and redress provided to survivors. Public officials are under a duty to condemn these attacks. REPEAL DISCRIMINATORY LAWS A majority of the world's population live in countries with laws that criminalise LGBT identities or ban sharing information and ideas about sexual orientation or gender identity. Homosexual acts are illegal in 81 countries and punishable by death in 10 countries. The situation is getting worse. More States are considering or enacting laws that ban “propaganda of homosexuality” - saying anything positive about LGBT rights, joining a march or parade, or a support group or campaign group, can result in prosecution, imprisonment or worse. This affects all of us. With laws restricting what we can or can't say about sexual orientation and gender identity we all are worse off. It deprives all people of essential information, including in relation to accessing HIV prevention and treatment programmes. Public health practitioners, educators and human rights defenders are put in particular danger. States must repeal all laws that discriminate against LGBT people, including by restricting what information they share or can access. We all have the right to express our identities and speak out about issues around sexual orientation and gender identities. Whether on the street, in an association or assembly, in school, university or online, we should be free to speak without fear of violence, intimidation or prosecution. Signed, Arnold Amber, CJFE President ARTICLE 19 Adil Soz - International Foundation for Protection of Freedom of Speech Albanian Media Institute Arabic Network for Human Rights Information Association for Civil Rights Cambodian Center for Human Rights Canadian Journalists for Free Expression Center for Independent Journalism - Romania Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility Centre for Independent Journalism - Malaysia Centro de Archivos y Acceso a la Información Pública Centro de Reportes Informativos sobre Guatemala - CERIGUA Centro Nacional de Comunicación Social Comité por la Libre Expresión - C-Libre Espacio Público Foundation for Press Freedom - FLIP Freedom Forum Freedom House Fundamedios - Andean Foundation for Media Observation and Study Globe International Center I'lam Media Center for Arab Palestinians in Israel Index on Censorship Initiative for Freedom of Expression - Turkey Institute for the Studies on Free Flow of Information Institute of Mass Information Maharat Foundation Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance Media Foundation for West Africa National Union of Somali Journalists PEN American Center PEN International Public Association "Journalists" Reporters Without Borders Southeast Asian Press Alliance Arabic Network for Human Rights Information #ENDhatelaws Coalition ABGLT Ação Educativa Acceptess-T ACCSI Acción Ciudadana Contra el Sida African Network for Prevention and Protection of Child Abuse and Neglect (ANPPCAN) - Malawi Chapter Akahata AC Akham algeria Albanian Helsinki Committee Amnesty International ANAMARGARITA ROJAS Arab Foundation for Freedoms and Equality Área de Derechos Humanos Arus Pelangi Association for Progressive Communications Associazione radicale Certi Diritti Bandhu Social Welfare Society, Bangladesh Bedayaa BeLonG To Blue Diamond Society, Nepal CamASEAN Youth's Future Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network Center for National and International Studies, Azerbaijan CHERL - Iquitos - Peru CIVICUS: World Alliance For Citizen Participation Colors Rainbow (Myanmar) Comité Idaho France en France Common Language, China Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative Council for Global Equality DIVERLEX Diversidad e Igualdad a Través de la Ley Drodrolagi Movement ELENA HERNÁIZ EQUAL GROUND, Sri Lanka European Parliament Intergroup on LGBT Rights Fabryka Równości (The Equality Factory) Federation of Dutch associations for the integration of homosexuality COC Netherlands Fundación Ecuatoriana Equidad FUNDACIÓN ECUATORIANA EQUIDAD - Ecuador Fundación Ecuatoriana YUNTA FUUNDACIÓN REFLEJOS DE VENEZUELA GALANG Philippines Galha LGBT Humanists Gay Japan News GAYa NUSANTARA Global Faith and Justice Project Global Justice Institute Grupo Dignidade Haus of Khameleon Helsinki Citizens' Assembly - Vanadzor HIVOS Human Rights First Human Rights Movement "Bir Duino-Kyrgyzstan" Idaho-net Japan Institute for Development and Community Health - LIGHT Instituto Brasileiro de Diversidade Sexual INSTITUTO RUNA de Desarrollo y Estudios sobre Género International Federation of Journalists - Asia-Pacific International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission International Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Youth and Student Organisation (IGLYO) International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) International IDAHO Committee Iwate Rainbow Network Kaleidoscope Trust Kaos GL Association Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law Lesbenorganisation Schweiz Lesbian and Gay Federation in Germany LSVD Lesbian Section SKUC-LL, Ljubljana, Slovenia LGBT Centre of Mongolia LGBT Human Rights of Korea LGBT VOICE TANZANIA LGBTIQA organisation "Labrys", Kyrgyzstan Lietuvos gėjų lyga/Lithuanian Gay League LLH - the Norwegian Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender organisation MANODIVERSA ASSOCIATION CIVIL Metropolitan Community Churches Micro Rainbow International Moscow LGBT organization "Rainbow Association" Moses Kimbugwe Oii-Chinese (Organization Intersex International - Chinese) Pacific Sexual Diversity Network (PSDN) PINK Embassy / LGBT Pro Albania PinkAnatomy Botswana Rainbow Action Against Sexual-Minority Discrimination Rainbow Kanazawa RoCK Roma Women's Center "Rromnjako Ilo" Russian LGBT Network Samara public movement "Avers" Sexual Rights Centre, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe Social Policies, Gender Identity and Sexual Orriantation Studies Asscociation Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD), Guyana Spectrum uganda Initiatives Inc Stonewall The Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (ELSAM) The Rainbow Rights Project Tonga Leitis Association (TLA) Trans-Fuzja Foundation Transgender and Intersex Africa Trung tâm ICS Urgent Action Fund for Women's Human Rights (UAF) Venezuela Diversa Asociación Civil se adhiere Women Coalition of HKSAR, HONG KONG Women's Health and Equal Rights Initiative, Nigeri World Movement for Democracy Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights - Brazil Youth Voices Count

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