HRC 37 side event | Gender, depathologization and human rights

Human Rights Council - 37th Session
Side Event on Gender, Depathologization and Human Rights


Pathologization of LGBT adults and children - branding them as ill based on their sexual  orientation, gender identity or gender expression -
has historically been, and continues to  be, one of the root causes behind the human rights violations that they face.
t is also an obstacle to overcoming negative attitudes, stereotypes, and the multiple barriers
for the realization of LGBT people’ s most fundamental human rights.

Joint statement by UN and regional human rights experts, IDAHOT 2016


Date and Venue
Tuesday, 6 March 2018, 9-10:30, Palais des Nations, Room XXV, Geneva

Pathologization is the psycho-medical, legal and cultural practice of identifying a feature, an individual or a population as intrinsically disordered. In this sense, trans and gender diverse people are routinely defined as inherently pathological just because of the way in which they identify and express themselves: their gender is normatively defined as a disorder in itself.

The UN has documented a range of violations against trans people, including, inter alia, killings, attacks, sexual assault, police violence, arbitrary detention, forced medical treatment, lack of legal gender recognition, abuses of sexual and reproductive rights, as well as discrimination in the areas of education, access to public facilities and services, employment, travel and access to justice. Importantly, UN and regional human rights bodies have linked these violations directly to the continued use of discriminatory diagnostic classifications and other laws and policies that pathologize gender diversity.

This panel will provide with a detailed account of pathologization as a specific root cause for human rights violations, as proposed in the report “Gender is not an illness. How pathologizing trans people violates human rights law”, framing this approach in the Yogyakarta Principles and the Yogyakarta Principles plus 10. 


Zhan Chiam, Gender Identity and Gender Expression Senior Programme Officer, ILGA

Sheherezade Kara,  Human right consultant, author of the GATE report Gender is not an illness. How pathologization violates human rights law. (*)
Eszter Kismodi, International Human Rights Lawyer (*)
Michael van Gelderen,  Human Rights Officer, OHCHR
Mauro Cabral Grinspan, Executive Director (GATE) (*) (**)

Pooja Patel
,  Human Rights Officer & Advocacy Manager, ISHR (*)

(*)  Signatories of the Additional Principles and State Obligations, Yogyakarta Principles  plus 10 (2017).
(**) Signatory to the Yogyakarta Principles (2007).

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