67th Session of the Commission on Status of Women: General Debate Statement by the UN LGBTI Core Group
Delivered on March 6th, 2023 by H.E. Mr. Thomas Blomqvist, Minister for Nordic Cooperation and Equality of Finland on behalf of the Member States of the UN LGBTI Core Group.
I have the honor to deliver this statement on behalf of the following Member States of the LGBTI Core Group Albania, Australia, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Cabo Verde, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Finland, France, Germany, Honduras, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Malta, Montenegro, Mexico, Nepal, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Norway, Peru, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Timor Leste, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the United States of America, Uruguay, and the European Union, as well as the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the non-governmental organizations Human Rights Watch and OutRight International. The group is co-chaired by Argentina and The Netherlands.
Our overarching goal is to work within the United Nations framework to ensure universal respect for the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all individuals without distinction, regardless of their real or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or sex characteristics, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) persons. Our particular focus is on protecting LGBTI persons from violence and discrimination.
The Commission on the Status of Women’s 67th Session priority theme, “Innovation and technological change, and education in the digital age for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls,” provides an opportunity for the international community to commit to ensure the full, equal and meaningful inclusion of lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex women, young women, adolescents, and girls in education, including STEM, and technology policies, laws and programs while also addressing existing gaps.
Data shows that LBTI persons and those that defend their rights are often disproportionally victims of multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination, oppression, sexual and gender-based violence, including harassment, stigma, inequality, and harmful social and cultural norms, which hinders their full, equal, and meaningful inclusion and participation in society and increases their risks and vulnerabilities in offline and online and in-person spaces, especially exposure to violence and harm, including inter alia sexual exploitation and abuse, including those leading to self-harming behaviours, technology-facilitated solicitation and grooming, cyberbullying, cyber harassment, cyber procuring, human trafficking, exposure to harmful and violent content, manipulation of information.
Discrimination in schools and other educational settings are impairing the ability of young persons that are or are perceived as lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and intersex to access and enjoy quality education and lifelong learning. In some cases, education authorities and schools actively discriminate against young persons because of their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
On a positive note, digital learning and digital literacy can increase access to diverse women role models, especially in underrepresented fields; remove gender bias and stereotypes from curricula and learning material; assist in the implementation of gender-transformative teaching strategies; develop gamified learning on subjects such as mental health, media literacy, online safety, or comprehensive sexuality education, or customize learning experience for girls with disabilities.
The internet and related digital technologies, including social media, are important tools to improve connectivity for marginalized groups, including lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex women, young women, adolescents, and girls to navigate the digital environment safely, access services, find information build community, and become empowered, informed and active citizens. Governments should be responsible for facilitating safe access for everybody to these services, and to give them effective and meaningful access to the Internet, accessible and inclusive public services, equitable and inclusive distance-learning solutions and to work with all relevant stakeholders to bridge the digital divides. Digital technologies are vital to improve the connectivity of these communities, therefore digital exclusion, and online harassment and cyberbullying, can be particularly harmful to them.
We strongly condemn the widespread use of censorship and the blockading of websites that focus on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex persons that are often used to build communities and share safety-related information, which leads to targeting these persons and violating their human rights.
We call on Member States to implement strategies, policies or legislation, and programs that address these specific realities and situations of vulnerability, to ensure that the lives and well-being of lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex women, young women, adolescents, and girls are protected and addressed.
We encourage Member States to improve transparency around the intersection of technology-facilitated gender-based violence with other issues that undermine lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex women, young women, adolescent and girls’ presence and freedom of expression in public spaces, such as gendered disinformation or algorithmic censorship and amplification.
Lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex women, young women, adolescents, and girls are frequently and disproportionately harassed and intimidated on the internet and related technologies, they are victims of technologically facilitated gender and sexually based violence and harassment including, cyberbullying arising from strangers, community, and family members as well as intimate partners, impairing their ability to remain safe and to exercise their fundamental human rights.
We are deeply concerned that breaches of safety and security online are particularly prevalent in States where their identities are criminalized or subject to punitive laws, as online identification and surveillance in these contexts can contribute to violence.
We call on all Member States and all relevant stakeholders to work together to prioritize online safety and security that is accessible to all, including those in rural and remote areas, to protect, respect and ensure the human rights of lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex women, young women, adolescents, and girls both online and offline.