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Report of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, E/CN.4/2001/9, January 11, 2001

IV. Violations of the right to life of special groups […]

F. Violations of the right to life of members of sexual minorities

48. The Special Rapporteur has continued to receive serious reports of persons having been subjected to death threats or extrajudicially killed because of their sexual orientation.

On 19 June 2000, the Special Rapporteur sent an urgent appeal to the Government of Brazil following reports that Eduardo Bernardes da Silva, a staff member at Amnesty International’s office in São Paolo, had received death threats in relation to his work in defence of gay and lesbian groups in Brazil. It was reported that in reaction to these threats Amnesty International had decided to temporarily close its São Paolo office and move Mr. da Silva to another state.[65] During the period under review, there have also been increasing reports of death threats, letter bombs and violent attacks against members of sexual minorities attributed to neo-Nazi groups in Brazil.

49. It has been reported that on 19 November 2000, a transvestite known as “Walter” was shot dead in San Salvador. The shots were reportedly fired by unknown men from a car which left the scene at high speed. It is alleged that the authorities have not taken effective action to investigate the case and to bring those responsible to justice. Non-governmental sources say that 7 similar killings were reported in El Salvador in 1999 and 12 in 1998. On 4 December 2000, the Special Rapporteur sent an urgent appeal urging the Government of El Salvador to investigate the killings and to take the necessary steps to protect members of sexual minorities from violence and extrajudicial killings.[66]

50. The Special Rapporteur finds it unacceptable that in some States homosexual relationships are still punishable by death. It must be recalled that under article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights death sentences may only be imposed for the most serious crimes, a stipulation which clearly excludes matters of sexual orientation. In this context, the Special Rapporteur wishes to reiterate her belief that the continuing prejudice against members of sexual minorities and especially the criminalization of matters of sexual orientation increase the social stigmatization of these persons. This in turn makes them more vulnerable to violence and human rights abuses, including death threats and violations of the right to life, which are often committed in a climate of impunity. The Special Rapporteur further notes that the often tendentious media coverage of this subject further contributes to creating an atmosphere of impunity and indifference about crimes committed against members of sexual minorities.

VII. Concluding remarks and recommendations […]

B. Recommendations […]

10. The right to life and sexual orientation

118. The Special Rapporteur encourages Governments to renew their efforts aimed at protecting the security and the right to life of persons belonging to sexual minorities. Acts of murder and death threats should be promptly and thoroughly investigated regardless of the sexual orientation of the person or persons concerned. Measures should include policies and programmes geared towards overcoming hatred of and prejudice against homosexuals and sensitizing public officials and the general public to crimes and acts of violence directed against members of sexual minorities.

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Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)

  1.  Please  note  that  this  case  is also  mentioned  in the  present  annual  report  and  in its addendum, E/CN.4/2001/9/Add.1,  January 17, 2001, para. 31.
  2.  Please  note  that  this  case  is also  mentioned  in the present  annual  report  and  in its addendum, E/CN.4/2001/9/Add.1,  January 17, 2001, para. 175.