On Wednesday, a United Nations committee grew to become the primary worldwide regulation physique to recognise that criminalising feminine same-sex sexual exercise is a basic breach of human rights.

The landmark determination means all international locations that criminalise ladies having intercourse with different ladies ought to instantly repeal these legal guidelines.

Which international locations criminalise homosexuality?

Seventy-one international locations nonetheless criminalise gay conduct. Many of those are our neighbours – ten in Asia and seven within the Pacific.

Many individuals assume these legal guidelines solely apply to males having intercourse with males, however that’s not the case. Sexual conduct between ladies is prohibited within the felony codes of 34 of those 71 international locations.

Nations with sharia regulation corresponding to Afghanistan, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia additionally primarily criminalise lesbian intercourse. So there are 43 international locations the place it’s against the law for girls to have interaction in same-sex sexual exercise – nearly 1 / 4 of all international locations on the earth.

The vast majority of the international locations that criminalise same-sex sexual exercise are members of the Commonwealth, whose anti-homosexuality legal guidelines had been launched by the British Empire.

Nevertheless, Britain solely ever criminalised male gay exercise, and the growth of those legal guidelines to explicitly embody feminine sexual exercise is a comparatively current phenomenon. Nations which have completed so embody: Trinidad and Tobago (1986), Solomon Islands (1990), Sri Lanka (1995), Malaysia (1998) and Nigeria (2014).

Previously 35 years, ten jurisdictions that beforehand solely criminalised same-sex male sexual intimacy modified their legal guidelines to incorporate, for the primary time, new felony sanctions of lesbians and bisexual ladies.

The legal guidelines criminalising same-sex exercise between ladies aren’t simply arcane legal guidelines which can be by no means enforced. In Malaysia simply over three years in the past, two ladies had been caned six occasions for making an attempt to have intercourse.

And late final yr, a lesbian activist in Iran was arrested whereas making an attempt to flee to Turkey to hunt asylum. Earlier than this, she was detained for 21 days by the Iraqi Kurdistan police following an interview she did with BBC Persian in regards to the scenario of the LGBTQ+ neighborhood in Iraqi Kurdistan.

The case

The case of Flamer-Caldera v Sri Lanka was introduced by a lesbian activist to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Towards Girls (CEDAW).

She argued that Sri Lanka’s felony legal guidelines violated her proper to stay her life free from discrimination primarily based on her sexual orientation.

The CEDAW committee agreed.

It discovered the impact of Sri Lanka’s felony code was that lesbian and bisexual ladies lived with the fixed threat of arrest and detention. And the legal guidelines facilitate a tradition the place discrimination, harassment and violence in opposition to lesbians and bisexual ladies can flourish.

Legislation is a software that governments use to speak to society what is suitable and unacceptable behaviour. When the Sri Lankan authorities declared any sexual intimacy between consenting ladies is against the law, it signalled to Sri Lankans that vilification, focusing on and harassment of lesbians and bisexual ladies is suitable, as a result of they’re criminals.

The legal guidelines not solely criminalise same-sex sexual conduct. Additionally they perpetuate homophobia, stigmatise the LGBTQ+ neighborhood and sanction gender-based violence in opposition to lesbians and bisexual ladies.

This determination sends a transparent message to all governments who suppose it’s OK to persecute, harass and discriminate in opposition to lesbians and bisexual ladies – you’re incorrect.

Learn extra:
Australia has lastly achieved marriage equality, however there’s much more to be completed on LGBTI rights

What now?

Sri Lanka now has six months to supply a written response to the CEDAW Committee setting out the motion it has taken, or will take, to provide impact to the committee’s determination.

Repealing the particular provision within the felony regulation won’t be sufficient. A way more holistic and nuanced response is required. Specifically, the federal government might want to:

  • develop campaigns to counter prejudice and stereotypes directed on the LGBTQ+ neighborhood

  • enact anti-discrimination legal guidelines prohibiting discrimination on the idea of sexual orientation, gender id and intersex standing

  • embed human rights training in colleges, selling equality and respect for all no matter their sexual orientation or gender id

  • present coaching for police, judges and different regulation enforcement officers to extend their understanding of, and respect for, the human rights of LGBTQ+ individuals. This can even allow ladies to report homophobic crimes to the police with out worry of retribution and with the information the perpetrators will probably be prosecuted

  • guarantee there are satisfactory civil and felony treatments for members of the LGBTQ+ neighborhood who’re subjected to discrimination and gender-based violence.

Learn extra:
It is time to speak about homosexual reparations and the way they’ll rectify previous persecutions of LGBTQ individuals

The choice in Flamer-Caldera v Sri Lanka represents a watershed second in worldwide human rights regulation and can reverberate all over the world.

It’s now past dispute that criminalising consensual grownup same-sex sexual conduct violates a girl’s proper to privateness, dignity and non-discrimination.

All governments have an obligation to guard all ladies, together with lesbians and bisexual ladies, from discrimination, gender-based violence and different hurt.

Any nation that criminalises the sexual conduct of lesbians and bisexual ladies, no matter whether or not they implement the legal guidelines, is responsible of violating worldwide regulation.

Supply By https://theconversation.com/un-committee-rules-anti-lesbian-sex-laws-breach-human-rights-in-landmark-decision-179936

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