Around the world, LGBTQ+ individuals continue to face arrest and prosecution due to their sexual orientation and gender identity, according to a new report by the International Lesbian, Gay Bisexual, Trans, and Intersection Association (ILGA).
ILGA, a worldwide federation of LGBTQ+ rights and advocacy organizations, compiled the report after reviewing hundreds of cases from the past two decades involving law enforcement measures taken against the LGBTQ+ community. Among the key findings were that arrests and prosecutions for consensual same-sex acts and diverse forms of gender expression continue to occur; that transgender and gender-diverse individuals are targeted due to their appearance; and that those detained are often subject to police abuse, mistreatment and torture.
The report also concludes that the media plays a critical role in how a country will enforce criminalization, and that enforcement can vary in its application and intensity, sometimes with short notice.
“To date, around one third of the United Nations member States continue to [criminalize] consensual same-sex acts between adults,” said Kellyn Botha, a research consultant at ILGA World, in a statement released to the press. “Governments often dismiss these provisions as ‘dormant regulations,’ but laws never really sleep. This report provides plenty of evidence of how [criminalizing] provisions have targeted our communities worldwide, at times coming back to life after years spent as a mere threatening presence on the books.”
She added, “The unpredictable nature of their enforcement makes LGBT and gender-diverse people live perpetually under threat, excluding them from an equal participation in society.”
The report finds that LGBTQ+ individuals are often targeted by law enforcement through tip-offs, entrapment, raids, and arbitrary searches. The report also finds that since evidence against individuals for illicit activities is often lacking, authorities will resort to torture, beatings, or forced examinations to extract confessions.
Laws that criminalize same-sex acts and diverse gender expressions “represent a constant threat,” says ILGA Executive Director Julia Ehrt in the press release. “This is true not only for our communities on the ground, but also for those seeking asylum after having managed to flee hostile environments. Claims that a law is rarely enforced are simply not enough to make a country safe for those who are nevertheless in danger of persecution there.”