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LGBT People: Human Rights

Foreign and Commonwealth Office written question – answered on 4th May 2020.

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Photo of Crispin Blunt Crispin Blunt Conservative, Reigate

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, how the Government is using its term as co-chair of the Equal Rights Coalition to ensure that LGBT+ people's rights are being upheld globally (a) during the covid-19 pandemic and (b) more generally.

Photo of Crispin Blunt Crispin Blunt Conservative, Reigate

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, how his Department is using its term as (a) co-chair of the Equal Rights Coalition and (b) Commonwealth Chair in Office to ensure governments around the world are protecting LGBT+ communities from increased marginalisation and violence during the covid-19 pandemic.

Photo of Wendy Morton Wendy Morton Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (Joint with the Department for International Development)

As co-chair of the Equal Rights Coalition (ERC) in partnership with Argentina, we are leading the ERC's work, in co-operation with civil society, to address violence and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals, and the ongoing criminalisation of same sex conduct in 70 countries. We have started work on a new ERC Strategy to guide and re-energise the work of the ERC, and are currently working on an ERC statement that calls on all governments to limit the repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic on people identified based on real or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or sex characteristics. Likewise as Commonwealth Chair-in-Office, the UK continues to raise the importance of countering discrimination within the Commonwealth, including on grounds of gender identity or sexual orientation. In both of these roles working through international organisations, we regularly raise concerns about countries that do not comply with their human rights obligations and promote non-discrimination against LGBT people, including during the COVID-19 pandemic.

On 9 April, the UK participated in the UN Human Rights Council's first ever virtual conversation with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Discussion focused on the human rights implications of the COVID-19 crisis which included concerns about increased risks on vulnerable groups. In his statement to the Council, our Ambassador to the UN in Geneva stressed the importance to ensure that parliaments, media and civil society all play their role to scrutinise the actions of governments and international agencies, and that we do not lose sight of the international human rights frameworks. The British Government remains committed to upholding the rights and freedoms of LGBT people in all circumstances.

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