Envisioning Global LGBT Human Rights through the UN Human Rights System


Envisioning Global LGBT Human Rights through the UN Human Rights System

Partner Organization: Envisioning Global LGBT Human Rights, an international research project housed at York University

Students: Zahra Ahmed, Atrisha Lewis

The criminalization and persecution of LGBT people has become a focus of international attention, policy and law only since 2006 and is still a relatively new concept outside of Canada, including in the international arena. Envisioning fosters links between Canada and the Global South and will document and analyze i) criminalization of LGBT people, ii) flight from violence and persecution, iii) resistance to criminalization, and iv) the interaction between International Treaty Body Human Rights Mechanisms and LGBT rights initiatives. Envisioning brings together a multi-lingual, interdisciplinary alliance to undertake a project of applied research, participatory video and documentary, skills exchange, capacity enhancement and knowledge mobilization. To accomplish these goals, the research team and community partners in Canada are partnered with LGBT and human rights groups based in: the former British Caribbean, Southern Africa, East Africa, and India.


The aim of this portion of the Envisioning project is to examine the interaction between international human rights mechanisms and LGBT rights initiatives, with the hopes of isolating areas where such interventions are most (and least) effective. Students will research and analyze initiatives by LGBT groups to access international bodies, specifically at the UN (UN Human Rights Council; UN Economic and Social Council; UN High Commission for Refugees). Reciprocally, students will research and analyze state responses to LGBT rights initiatives and, eventually, responses by these bodies. This analysis will be restricted to the countries of focus for the broader Envisioning project: India, Botswana, Kenya, Uganda, St Lucia, Guyana, Jamaica, Belize, South Africa, and Canada.

Two clinic students travelled to Geneva in March 2012 to further their research on this project.  Read about their experiences here.