New York, 20 March 2023
I would like to thank the Permanent Mission of the United States for the initiative to organize this meeting dedicated to the rights of the LGBTQI+. I thank the briefers, the UN Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and the civil society briefers.
We meet very often to discuss different topics in the context of international peace and security, but I must admit, we do not always pay the right attention to all issues, as is clearly the case with the human rights of LGBTQI+ people in the context of international peace and Security. This is why this second Arria meeting is important and timely and sets the bar where it should be.
As already mentioned here today, evidence shows that state and nonstate conflict actors in a range of contexts have target LGBTQI people for sexual assault, exploitation, humiliation, blackmail and extortion. Violence and discrimination perpetrated worldwide are clearly based on actual or perceived sexual orientation and/or gender identity. It is unacceptable. No one should be subject to what Mr. Akbari has been through.
Human Rights violations, including against persecuted minorities such as members of the LGBTI community, generate conflicts that can threaten international peace and security. We strongly believe that such driver is the Council’s business to address.
In this context, catalyzing an LGBTQI-inclusive dialogue at the Security Council will only reinforce international legal scaffolding protecting people from violence and discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Therefore, we believe there are a number of steps necessary not only to catalyze an LGBTI-inclusive dialogue but also to improve the situation of LGBTI people in conflict and post-conflict settings:
First, we need to strengthen the understanding on LGBTI rights and security. Only with a better understanding of this nexus, will we be able to mainstream LGBTI rights across different agendas of the SC, including the mandates of UN Missions and sanctions regimes.
Second, more must be done to close the data gap on LGBT and gender-diverse people in conflict and humanitarian crises. Disaggregated data on gender, age, and other potential factors driving marginalization must be used to understand the impacts a conflict and/or a humanitarian crisis has on LGBTI people. In other words, shed a much-needed light on this dark spot.
Third, facilitate the meaningful participation of LGBTI victims and survivors in humanitarian and conflict situations in decision-making processes that affect them, including in peacebuilding and transitional justice strategies.
Fourth, UN must increase the cross-secretariat and cross-agency cooperation and coordination in sharing information, knowledge, and best practices in UN Missions regarding the protection and promotion of LGBTI rights. UN Missions are there to protect civilians, everyone, without distinction. No one should be left behind.
Fifth, ensure accountability for conflict related sexual violence, including here anti-sexual orientation and gender identity sexual violence.
It is clear that all our efforts would be incomplete if we fail to properly address the concerns and vulnerabilities at the national level.
We welcome the progress in the decriminalization of homosexuality and the advancement of the LGBTI Rights worldwide. Over the past 5 years, a dozen of countries have decriminalized homosexuality and some progress has been achieved to fight violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
However, there is still so much more to be done. Today there are still 68 countries where same sex behavior is criminalized, while a disproportionate number of states do not have comprehensive anti-discrimination laws and policies which makes members of the LGBTI community object of hate-speech or continued discrimination in areas such as healthcare, education, and employment.
We know from our own harsh communist past what it means not to be able to express yourself freely and not to enjoy the most basic human rights.
Since the start of the transformational change in the early 90’, Albania has marked meaningful and transformative progress in advancing human rights in general and the LGBTI Rights in particular. A robust legal framework has been put in place for the promotion and protection of human rights of LGBTI people.
The “National Action Plan for LGBTI persons, for the years 2021-2027” is directly linked with the core national development drives – the National Strategy for Development and Integration as well as the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda.
Let me conclude, by reiterating our unwavering commitment committed to advance the Human Rights Agenda at all levels and for all, including the rights of LGBTI people, in all relevant forums.
In particular, as a candidate for election to the HRC for the term 2024 – 2026, if elected, Albania will champion Human Rights agenda across the full breadth of the Human Rights Council’s work, fully convinced that Human Rights can be instrumental in setting countries on the path to peace and development and avert violence and conflict.