General Comment No. 20: Non-discrimination in Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (art. 2, para. 2), E/C.12/GC/20, 2 July 2009
II. SCOPE OF STATE OBLIGATIONS
11. Private sphere. Discrimination is frequently encountered in families, workplaces, and other sectors of society. For example, actors in the private housing sector (e.g. private landlords, credit providers and public housing providers) may directly or indirectly deny access to housing or mortgages on the basis of ethnicity, marital status, disability or sexual orientation while some families may refuse to send girl children to school. States parties must therefore adopt measures, which should include legislation, to ensure that individuals and entities in the private sphere do not discriminate on prohibited grounds.
III. PROHIBITED GROUNDS OF DISCRIMINATION
B. Other status
27. The nature of discrimination varies according to context and evolves over time. A flexible approach to the ground of “other status” is thus needed to capture other forms of differential treatment that cannot be reasonably and objectively justified and are of a comparable nature to the expressly recognised grounds in Article 2(2). These additional grounds are commonly recognised when they reflect the experience of social groups that are vulnerable and have suffered and continue to suffer marginalisation. The Committee’s General Comments and Concluding Observations have recognised various other grounds and these are described in more detail below. However, this list is not intended to be exhaustive. Other possible prohibited grounds could include the denial of a person’s legal capacity because he or she is in prison, or is involuntarily interned in a psychiatric institution, or the intersection of two prohibited grounds of discrimination, e.g., where access to a social service is denied on the basis of sex and disability.
32. Sexual orientation and gender identity. “Other status” as recognized in article 2, paragraph 2, includes sexual orientation. States parties should ensure that a person’s sexual orientation is not a barrier to realizing Covenant rights, for example, in accessing survivor’s pension rights. In addition, gender identity is recognized as among the prohibited grounds of discrimination; for example, persons who are transgender, transsexual or intersex often face serious human rights violations, such as harassment in schools or in the workplace. [fn]
Link to full text of the report: General Comment-CESCR-20-non-discrimination-2009-eng