OUR United Nations Research
Documenting the lived experiences of sexual and gender minorities is important to amplify their voices at a global level. Our global CallOUT research team regularly work on reports to submit to various bodies of the United Nations.
Previous reports have been submitted to the Independent SOGIESC Expert and to the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery.
We encourage you to read our submitted research to the United Nations, below.
OCHRH: United Nations High Commission (2024)
Rafiki and Beyond: Political Restrictions on SOGI Freedoms in Kenya and Uganda
ReportOUT was delighted to submit a paper in response to the UN Human Rights Office of the High Commission’s call for papers on the subject of restrictions on sexual and gender minorities’ (SOGI) human rights of freedom of expression, assembly and association.
Part of the UN’s broader monitoring of LGBTQI+ Human Rights, the report in question will serve as ‘an examination of the root causes of violence and discrimination, the IE SOGI’s report will focus on trends in relation to laws, policies, and practices that unlawfully restrict, explicitly or implicitly, freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly based on SOGI. The report will also examine the impact of such restrictions on civil society, with a particular focus on civil society groups and individuals advocating for the enjoyment of those human rights free from discrimination based on SOGI.’ The report is scheduled to be published in Q2 2024.
A team of two ReportOUT researchers, Arnold Ochieng from Kenya and Daniel Santos from Portugal, constructed a paper, focused on Kenya and Uganda as case studies to demonstrate specific examples of state bodies restricting the basic rights of SOGI communities in the themes of freedom of expression (the banning of films with queer content such as the ‘Rafiki’ of our report’s title), association (restrictions on NGOs supporting SOGI communities) and assembly (bans on Pride marches or the ‘Queer Kampala film festival’ – events which celebrate SOGI identities).
The report demonstrates that restrictions take the form of both direct legislation, such as Uganda’s odious 2023 Anti-Homosexuality Act (AHA) and vaguer bills which appear to protect the family but can easily be interpreted as an attack upon these core rights of SOGI individuals within both states. Despite Kenya recently permitting an NGO with the words ‘gay’ and ‘lesbian’ to register, state bodies in both countries continue to restrict registration of such organisations. Indeed, supporting or fundraising for a charity or NGO supporting SOGI rights is now illegal in Uganda under the AHA. Freedom of expression restrictions manifest as creative media (books, films) with SOGI themes being censored or barred from publication. The ban on Rafiki being distributed in Kenya is illustrative of such restrctions:
‘The Board notes with great concern that the said film objectionable classifiable elements such as homosexual practices that run counter to the laws and culture of Kenyan people. It is our considered view that the moral of the story in this film is to legitimize lesbianism in Kenya contrary to the law and the Board’s content classification guidelines.’
Our report illustrates the systemic nature of such discrimination, which runs contrary to both countries’ constitutions which guarantee such basic freedoms and both countries’ commitments as members of the UN. Ultimately, such policies only serve to damage their own people and hinder both countries’ abilities to meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals for the benefit of all their citizenry, including sexual and gender minorities. ReportOUT is proud to contribute to the UN Office of the High Commissioner’s report and will continue to stand with sexual and gender minorities around the globe.
The Permanent Shadow: The Impact of Colonialism on Sexual and Gender Minorities in Kenya and Zimbabwe
ReportOUT was recently delighted to submit a paper in response to the UN Human Rights Office of the High Commission’s call for input into a report on colonialism and sexual orientation and gender identity
Part of the UN’s broader monitoring of LGBTQI+ Human Rights, the report in question will ‘examine the past and present colonial regulation of sexual orientation and gender identity through laws, policies and practices, and how such regulation continues to impact the lives of LGBT persons, including through layers of cultural influence and social mores on concepts of gender and sexuality.’ The report is scheduled to be published in November 2023.
A multinational team of six ReportOUT researchers constructed a paper, focused on Kenya and Zimbabwe as case studies to demonstrate the lingering impact of colonialism upon, largely hostile, contemporary policy towards LGBTQI+ communities within both states. Titled ‘The Permanent Shadow’, our report demonstrates that the documented existence of same-sex attraction in both societies was obliterated by British Victorian sensibilities.
Prior to colonisation, many African countries did not see gender as a binary as their European colonizers did, nor did they correlate anatomy to gender identity. British colonial laws, notably Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code provided for the offence of ‘carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman, or animal.' It imposed a maximum punishment of life imprisonment.
The colonial legacy of homophobia continues to this day, with same-sex relationshps continuing to be criminalised and political leaders deeming homosexuality as a Western import and un-African, disregarding their own history pre-colonial acceptance of diverse sexual orientations. Our report illustrates the myth of such diversity being a Western imposition, which remains an aspect of contemporary political discourse in both countries. Ultimately, such policies only serve to damage their own people and hinder both countries’ abilities to meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals for the benefit of their citizenry. ReportOUT is proud to contribute to the UN Office of the High Commissioner’s report and will continue to stand with sexual and gender minorities around the globe.
United Nations Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Slavery (2023)
Not an Ideal Victim? Trafficking, Homelessness, and Risks Faced by LGBTQI+ Young People. A Global Scoping Report for the UN Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Slavery.
ReportOUT was recently delighted to submit a paper in response to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Slavery, Prof. Tomoya Obokata. This paper was in response to a call for input on homelessness as a cause and a consequence of contemporary forms of slavery. The report has since been hosted on the UN Special Rapporteur website.
Whilst the anti-trafficking field has excelled in documenting research, elevating voices, and providing services to many marginalised and vulnerable populations, trafficked LGBTQI+ people, and especially LGBTQI+ young people still go ignored, underserved, or unserved by the sector. Additionally, LGBTQI+ young people and homelessness, and its clear links to sex trafficking is similarly overlooked and rarely reported by local and national governments, leading it to become insufficiently tackled via global mechanisms. This underreporting of sex trafficking amongst LGTBQI+ populations and especially LGBTQI+ young people living homeless, make it difficult to understand the specific nature of trafficking crimes, and the total number of people who have been affected by it across the globe. It is clear from the evidence that trafficking is happening to homeless LGBTQI+ young people and they live at a heightened risk of it. This population are falling through gaps in research, detection, and provision, and so now it is time to act.
The first part of this report will outline some of the issues with the current narratives around trafficking and the resources which have been put into place, as well as problematising some of the language and discourses used by the anti-trafficking field. It will then examine the available literature which meshes together LGBTQI+ young people, homelessness, and trafficking, which has been emerging in North America. It then explores more sporadic global research data from different nation states and regions, though we recognise that the current research and screening of LGBTQI+ populations conducted so far, is not enough.
However, this scoping report is an attempt to ‘jump start’ the conversation about LGBTQI+ young people, homelessness, trafficking and modern-day slavery, and the precarious risks which they face on a day to day basis. We hope that you will find this report a useful starting ground, which has aimed to bring together some of the official literature about this topic area, to provide a useful and empowering set of recommendations from various sources. We hope these recommendations will be used by nation states, governments, civil society, academics, and institutions, to tackle this issue.