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Report of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, E/CN.4/1999/39, 6 January 1999

E. The right to life and sexual orientation

76. The Special Rapporteur is deeply concerned by numerous and continuing reports of persons having been killed or sentenced to death because of their sexual orientation. She is particularly disturbed by reports from Brazil, Colombia and Mexico, where so-called “death-squads” have over the last years reportedly murdered a large of number of persons belonging to sexual minorities. The Special Rapporteur has been informed that in the period from 1991 to 1994, 12 homosexual men were killed by armed groups in the city of Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Mexico. It appears that the perpetrators of these killings were never identified, and it is alleged that the authorities failed to carry out thorough and complete investigations into these crimes. The Special Rapporteur has also received reports that in the last several years hundreds  of  so-called “social undesirables”, including many homosexuals and transvestites, have been killed by armed groups in Colombia. In Brazil it is reported that hundreds of persons belonging to sexual minorities have been murdered in the last 10 years. It is alleged that the Brazilian and Colombian authorities have not taken adequate action to find and prosecute the persons responsible for these crimes.

77. The Special Rapporteur regrets that in some States homosexual relationships are still punishable by death. In this regard she wishes to recall that under article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, death sentences may only be imposed for the most serious crimes. As discussed above in chapter V, section A (3), this restriction clearly excludes matters of sexual orientation. The Special Rapporteur further believes that criminalizing matters of sexual orientation increases the social stigmatization of members of sexual minorities, which in turn makes them more vulnerable to violence and human rights abuses, including violations of the right to life. Because of this stigmatization, violent acts directed against persons belonging to sexual minorities are also more likely to be committed in a climate of impunity.

link to full text of the Report: Report-SR Extrajudicial Executions-1999-eng