International human rights references to human rights violations on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity

This second updated edition, prepared by the International Commission of Jurists addresses the issue of human rights violations on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.

This edition contains excerpts of the authoritative findings, jurisprudence and commentary of treaty bodies, special procedures of the former Commission on Human Rights, the Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees, with explicit reference to sexual orientation.

The objective of this document is to compile relevant existing information in order to frame the debate, and highlight some of the existing available materials on the issue. Similarly, it is meant to be a resource for human rights activists and human rights defenders committed to the protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation.


  • Sexual orientation refers to the way in which a person’s emotional and sexual desires and feelings are directed. The common categories of sexual orientation are heterosexual, gay, lesbian and bisexual.
  • Gender identity refers to a person’s deeply felt, internal sense of belonging to a particular gender and their sense of conformity or non-conformity as between their psychological gender and that assigned to them at birth.
  • In June 2006, the newly established United Nations Human Rights Council took over all mandates, mechanisms, functions and responsibilities of the former Commission on Human Rights.
  • The excerpts included in this document are presented in inverted chronological order from the most recent to the oldest. Under each special procedure heading, annual reports to the former Commission on Human Rights and interim reports to the General Assembly have been included first, followed by the addenda summarizing communications with governments on individual cases. For practical constraints, in certain cases material was not available in these three languages. Internal quotes in the references have been omitted.
  • The document includes treaty bodies’ general comments, individual communications and concluding observations, as well as special procedures’ annual reports and annexes detailing individual cases. The individual cases of human rights violations on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, although they do not provide legal analysis, exemplify the wide spectrum of human rights violations that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons suffer.

Human rights violations sexual orientation-thematic report-2006-eng (full text in English, PDF)

ReportsThematic reports