Threats and intimidation against women who express their opinions about sex and sexual orientation are deeply worrying, the UN Special Rapporteur* on violence against women and girls, its causes and consequences, Reem Alsalem, said on Monday.
The expert made these statements in the context of the discrepancies between some activists for the rights of women and transsexuals in various countries of the North. Alsalem recalled that “discrimination based on sex and sexual orientation is prohibited under international and regional human rights law”.
Lack of protection from security forces
The specialist highlighted the relevant role played by law enforcement in protecting authorized gatherings of women and guaranteeing their safety and their right to freedom of assembly and expression without intimidation, coercion or effective silencing.
“It is clear that in cases where law enforcement has failed to provide the necessary safeguards, we have witnessed incidents of verbal and physical abuse, harassment and intimidation, with the purpose of sabotaging and disrupting such acts, as well as silencing the women who wish to speak in them”, he pointed out.
She also highlighted her concern about the frequent strategy of creating smear campaigns against women, girls and their allies because of their ideas about non-discrimination based on sex and homosexual relationships.
“cross them off nazis, genocidal either extremists It is a way of attacking and intimidating women in order to discourage them from speaking up and expressing their opinions. Such actions are deeply concerning, as they are intended to instill fear in them, silence them, and incite violence and hatred against them,” he stated.
Alsalem also expressed concern about the treatment in some countries of laws that criminalize hate speech on various grounds, including gender expression or identity.
“Women and girls have the right to discuss any issue without intimidation or threats of violence. (…) Holding and expressing opinions on the scope of rights in society based on sex and gender identity must not be delegitimized, trivialized or dismissed ”, she highlighted.
The right to disagree cannot constitute a threat
Under international humanitarian law, any limitation on freedom of expression must be applied in strict compliance with human rights standards on legality, necessity, proportionality and justified purpose.
The expert also indicated that those who do not share the views of women and girls when they express their concerns regarding gender identity and sex also have the right to express their opinion. However, they must not threaten the safety and integrity of those they are protesting against and with those who disagree.
Widespread restrictions on the ability of women and men to express their views on rights related to gender and sex identity violate fundamental principles of freedom of thought and freedom of belief and expression, and amount to a form of unjustified or widespread censorship.
The rapporteur described as “particularly worrying” the various types of reprisals against women, such as censorship, legal harassment, loss of employment and income, the excusion of social networks, speeches and the refusal to publish conclusions and articles. research. In some cases, political parties punish their female members by threatening them with dismissal or dismissing them.”
*The special rapporteurs, independent experts and working groups are part of what is known as Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent investigative and monitoring mechanisms that address specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. . Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent of any government or organization and provide their services in an individual capacity.