Statement by UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem on the attempted criminalization of homosexuality

28 March 2023

Human rights are inherent to all human beings, and these rights are guaranteed for every person, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. 

As head of the sexual and reproductive health agency of the United Nations, UNFPA, I am deeply troubled by the attempts to criminalize same-sex relationships in some parts of the world, exposing millions of individuals to the risk of arrest, imprisonment or even death. 

The persecution of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI) people is a breach of their right to freedom of expression, to liberty, privacy and equality, to freedom from violence, discrimination and inhuman and degrading treatment, and to a fair trial. 

The oppression of LGBTQI people worldwide directly contravenes UNFPA's mission of achieving universal access to sexual and reproductive health and realizing the rights of all people.

It leads to devastating public health consequences by effectively severing equitable access to life-saving services, raising stigma and discrimination, in particular for people living with HIV, thereby undermining efforts in controlling the HIV epidemic. 

It puts the lives of some of the most vulnerable members of society as well as those working to protect their safety, health and rights – such as health workers, lawyers, journalists and humanitarian sector workers – at grave risk. 

Together with our partners, UNFPA will continue to tackle the violence, discrimination and exclusion faced by the LGBTQI community. By protecting, promoting and fulfilling the human rights of LGBTQI people worldwide, we can secure rights and choices for all. 

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