Report of the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty, A/HRC/32/31/Add.1, 8 April 2016: Chile
III. Main findings
C. Discrimination, poverty and inequality
35. In 2012, Chile adopted the new Anti-Discrimination Act (Act No. 20,609). That law had been proposed in Congress years earlier, but was effectively stalled until a 24-year-old gay man Daniel Zamudio was beaten to death in Santiago. Public outcry and international criticism after the killing of Mr. Zamudio finally led to the adoption of the Anti-Discrimination Act in 2012. Because of the link between the brutal killing of Mr. Zamudio and the adoption of the law, the latter is almost synonymous in the public mind with the prohibition of discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons.
43. Significant problems persist in terms of discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons. While the 2012 Anti-Discrimination Act was a landmark achievement in this regard, many lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons still face discrimination on a daily basis at school, at work and when trying to access basic services, such as health care and housing. The unacceptable discrimination and violence they encounter also makes it more likely that they will end up living in poverty. And those who come from poorer socioeconomic backgrounds are often subject to multiple forms of discrimination, thus making it extremely difficult to lift themselves out of poverty.
44. Transgender persons, particularly transgender women, often face the most severe forms of discrimination and other violations of human rights. Because of a lack of societal understanding and acceptance of transgender persons and the paucity of government policies and institutions to assist them, they are often forced to find work in the informal sector. Sex work may often be the only employment option effectively available to them, but this leaves them especially vulnerable to violence, diseases such as AIDS and unable to earn a steady income. The vulnerability of transgender persons is also reflected in a life expectancy of 35-40 years of age, compared to 79 in the country as a whole.
45. Deep discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons cannot be eliminated by legislative fiat alone and there is a need for concerted government policies to reinforce the legal commitment through education, resource commitment and policy changes. One fundamental step would be better data collection about the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex population. The CASEN surveys do not take account of sexual orientation or gender identity and the Government has not undertaken other comprehensive surveys or studies of this group, their socioeconomic situation or the nature and extent of violence and discrimination against them. Such data is an essential foundation for the development of coherent government policies addressing the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons.
46. The absence of an institution specifically tasked to protect and promote the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons is also a critical gap. No government entity is responsible for enforcing the Anti-Discrimination Act and the National Service for Women has not embraced the rights of transgender women as part of its agenda. Given the nature and depth of the discrimination involved, appropriate institutional arrangements are indispensable.
47. Furthermore, the right of transgender persons to change their name and gender identity should be protected by law and put into effect through simple civil procedures. While the bill on gender identity that the Senate initiated in May 2013 was a positive step, the proposed procedures to register a change in gender identity were cumbersome and required judicial approval. Consideration of this bill appears to have stalled and human rights groups have expressed concern that the new Chair of the Senate’s Human Rights Commission is opposed to the bill. The opposition of a single legislator should not be permitted to obstruct progress on a vitally important non-discrimination measure.
IV. Conclusions and recommendations
C. Constitutional and institutional reform
71. President Bachelet has announced that a dialogue on constitutional reform will begin in late 2015. The Special Rapporteur urges the Government of Chile to ensure that the full range of economic, social and cultural rights are recognized in a revised constitution. The rights of particular groups such as women, children, persons with disabilities, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons and others should also be specifically recognized in the revised constitution. Recognition should also be accorded to the indigenous peoples of Chile and their rights.
E. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons
79. The Special Rapporteur urges the Government of Chile to collect accurate statistics about the number of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons in Chile, which task is a prerequisite to effective policy elaboration. The Special Rapporteur also recommends that future CASEN surveys and the census should offer an alternative to the male/female binary option. In addition, the registration of a change in gender identity should not require time-consuming, expensive and potentially problematic processes of judicial approval. Other States permit individuals to register their own status at civil registries.
80. The Special Rapporteur recommends that the Government should set up a specialized institution to examine, in consultation with the groups concerned, the full range of social and other policies that need to be reformed to take account of the specific needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons and to ensure equal treatment. Examples of problem areas include housing for transgender persons, the responsibility of an agency such as the National Service for Women for dealing with transgender women, and the facilities and medical treatments made available in prisons. In general, the Special Rapporteur recommends that all social programmes take account of sexual orientation and gender identity implications.
Link to full text of the report: report-srpoverty-chile-2016-eng