Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

France regrets that in too many countries, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people continue to be victims of harassment, acts of torture, arbitrary arrests, and even murders, in complete impunity.

The fight to decriminalize homosexuality is a priority for France. Currently, homosexuality is an offence in over 70 States and punishable by death in five of these. In others, homosexuality and trans-sexuality are regarded as diseases.

This situation is unacceptable. All of these individuals must benefit from the same protection of their rights, without discrimination, in accordance with human rights as recognized in the international texts. France therefore supports all actions to promote human rights and the fight for the acceptance of human diversity and the universality of human rights.

France supports the objective of universal decriminalization of homosexuality. We are currently working on this subject with NGOs and our partners in order to define the approach that will give the highest possibility of success for any United Nations initiative (expanding coalitions, constructing useful sequences, raise awareness at grassroots level).

France’s action at the United Nations

France is fully mobilized within the United Nations on fighting the stigmatization and serious breaches of human rights to which LGBTI persons are subject around the world.

This is shown through several initiatives:

  • In December 2008, France and the Netherlands presented the text of the Declaration on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity to the United Nations General Assembly. In 2018, 68 States had signed the declaration. We continue to call upon all States who have not done so to sign this text which reaffirms equal human rights for all.
  • France worked on drafting the Human Rights Council Resolution on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in June 2011. It also supported the historic panel on sexual orientation and gender identity during the 19th Session of the Human Rights Council in March 2012.
  • France was actively involved in the diplomatic work which led to the adoption of a resolution condemning discrimination and violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity by the Human Rights Council in September 2014. This resolution, which was sponsored by 50 States, received wide-ranging support from members of the Human Rights Council and was an important step in international mobilization on this issues.
  • In June 2016, the HRC adopted a resolution on violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, presented by Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Chile, Mexico and Colombia. This resolution led to the creation, for the first time in this field, of the position of Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Victor Madrigal-Borloz (Costa Rica) was appointed, from 1 January 2018, to this position.
  • Following the Orlando attacks, on12 June 2016, the Security Council, chaired by France, adopted a declaration condemning the attack and its homophobic character. It is the first Security Council declaration which mentions victims’ sexual orientation. On 16 June 2016, at the initiative of Samantha Power, Permanent Representative of the United States to the UN, a high-level meeting was held at Stonewall Inn, a very symbolic location for the fight for LGBTI rights. France, as well as 15 other countries and the EU, participated in this meeting.

The success of these initiatives is proof of the gradual progress of this issue within the United Nations and among States, despite the persistence of certain conservative views, as well as continuous commitment of France and its partners on this issue.

France’s other international actions:

  • France is working, in coordination with its European partners, in countries which continue to penalise homosexuality, and we pay particular attention to changes underway in the States which are toughening legislation on this issue.
  • France actively participated with its European partners in drawing up the Guidelines to promote and protect the enjoyment of all human rights by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons which was adopted by the Foreign Affairs Council in June 2013.
  • France also supports the determined efforts of human rights defenders and NGOs.
    France, the Netherlands and Norway created a Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Fund in 2009, which provides an innovative framework aimed at bringing together a wide variety of public and private stakeholders committed to fighting homophobia and transphobia (States, associations, foundations). Donors participate alongside key LGBTI associations and human rights defenders. The Fund supports local associations in countries where such issues are deemed too sensitive to be aired publicly, which significantly limits civil society’s scope for action regarding this issue. The Fund is therefore a genuine public awareness-raising tool for medium- and long-term change.
    Through two calls for projects, the Fund has already supported a variety of actions (dialogue with families, awareness-raising for the wider public, advocacy for decriminalization) in Africa, the Americas, Asia and Eastern Europe. Since its creation, the Fund has mobilized nearly €800,000, 60% of which was contributed by France. A new call for projects was launched for 2018 with particular focus on projects in French-speaking Africa.
  • France was one of the first countries to join the Equal Rights Coalition, launched in July 2016 in Montevideo, during an international conference for the respect of LGBTI rights organized jointly by Uruguay and the Netherlands. This Coalition, composed of 35 States (mainly Western and Latin American countries), has the aim of getting the States to work more closely, in connection with civil society, to promote respect for LGBTI rights, particularly through public declarations (see declaration on violence towards LGBTI people in Chechnya) and through joint confidential démarches. France participates in the Coalition’s meetings. The Ambassador for Human Rights participated in the most recent summit which was held in August 2018 in Vancouver.
  • France also provides specific support for the emergence of associations to defend LGBTI rights in French-speaking countries (project led by the French NGO Solidarité Internationale LGBT), as well as improving access to the prevention and treatment of STIs in Africa and the Caribbean for vulnerable groups, including LGBT individuals (project led by the NGO Aides financed by the Agence Française de Développement).

Updated: December 2018