Inter-American Commission discusses situation of LGBT people in detention

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

In the first ever hearing on the human rights situation of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) persons deprived of their liberty in Latin America, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights reiterated its deep concern at the discrimination and violence faced by LGBT persons in the region and pledged to “continue to address the issue with all the seriousness it deserves”.

The hearing, which had been requested by the APT, took place in Washington DC on 23 October 2015. In addition to the APT, it was attended by Ari Vera Morales from Almas Cautivas, a Mexican NGO which defends the human rights of trans women in prison, Maria Santos from the Ombudsman’s Office for Federal Prisons (Procuración Penitenciaria de la Nación) in Argentina, and Victor Madrigal, the LGBT focal point of the UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture. The Inter-American Commission was represented by Commissioners Tracy Robinson, James Cavallaro, José de Jesús Orozco Henriquez and Paulo Vannuchi.

Watch the video recording of the hearing (in Spanish)

In his introduction, APT’s detention adviser Jean-Sébastien Blanc recalled that the LGBT population is in a situation of increased vulnerability in detention. It is also a group that is particularly affected by the structural problems of Latin American prisons, such as overcrowding, corruption and the self-government of prisons.

Victor Madrigal expressed the SPT’s deep concern about the situation of LGBTI persons in detention, which was also reflected in the SPT’s latest annual report. Based on its visits, the Subcommittee has concluded that "places of detention are not really equipped to meet the needs of LGBTI persons."

Referring to the situation in Argentina, Maria Santos said that while the State had seen some important legal changes, discriminatory practices still remain within the justice and security sectors.

In the Mexican capital, trans women in prisons face a reality of violence, discrimination, hatred and stigmatization. Ari Vera Morales highlighted among other things the lack of training and awareness among prison staff and officials. Trans women, she said, are in a state of “institutional abandonment”.

To conclude the hearing, APT and its partner organisations made a number of recommendations to States and to the Inter-American Commission, aimed at ensuring adequate protection of LGBT persons deprived of liberty.

The full text of the interventions made at the hearing is available here.

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Photo: Inter-American Commission on Human Rights