During the 53rd Regular Session of the Human Rights Council Interactive dialogue with the Independent Expert on sexual orientation and gender (IE SOGI), two of the Trans Advocacy Week delegates delivered statements on behalf of 14 trans and gender diverse activists from the Global South and East and in support of the IE SOGI Report on Freedom of Religion and LGBT+ Equality (advance unedited version), the Mandate and the work of the mandate holder, Victor Madrigal-Borloz over the course of the past 7 years. These statements were delivered on 21 June 2023.
The first statement, delivered by Kivenzi (Kim) Muange, highlighted the multiple laws, policies, and cultural practices worldwide that continue to perpetuate human rights abuses against LGBTI persons in the name of religion, while commending the IE SOGI for the recognition of the right to freedom of religion or belief as a right of individuals, and not of States or Religions. The statement went on to call for greater exploration of “conversion therapies” practices in the name of Religion to provide valuable data to stop these practices, particularly perpetuated against trans youth. The statement called for a step beyond the banning of conversion practices, to demand individual crisis care and general counseling services for conversion practice survivors that are both LGBTI-inclusive and Religion-friendly in order to reparate, rehabilitate and compensate those forced to undergo these practices. The statement ended with a question to the IE SOGI to ask how he would promote reparations and compensations for the survivors of this practice.
The second statement, delivered by Douglas Mauricio Kono da Silva, commended the Mandate for addressing the complex interplay between freedom of religion and belief and the rights of LGBT people, and celebrated the mention in the IE SOGI’s report of indigenous communities’ recognition of diverse identities over the centuries. Speaking on the marginalization of indigenous gender-diverse identities and spiritual practices under colonial oppression, the statement highlighted the use of Religion as a weapon, not only to promote violence against LGBT people, but in funding the development of anti-LGBT and anti-trans narratives, thus adding to the historical and structural exclusion of trans and gender diverse communities. The statement also highlighted that, despite the position of opposition that LGBT people and religious communities are frequently placed, members of the LGBT community also seek a connection with the sacred and are entitled to be members of welcoming religious communities and to freely practice their beliefs. The first statement concluded with a question to the IE SOGI about where he sees the Mandate’s role in supporting the crucial dialogue between States, religious leaders, and LGBT and gender-diverse people with different opinions and faiths.