MSMGF Welcomes Victor Madrigal-Borloz’s Appointment as New UN SOGI Independent Expert

Madrigal-Borloz must continue the work of Vitit Muntarbhorn and actively advocate for the health and human rights of LGBTI people living with and affected by HIV.

Earlier this week, the 47 government members of the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council appointed Costa Rican jurist, Victor Madrigal-Borloz, as the new UN Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI).

“Mr. Madrigal-Borloz has a strong track record of utilizing international human rights law to protect the lives of LGBTI people and actively listening to civil society.” said MSMGF Executive Director, Dr. George Ayala. “Discrimination, violence, humiliation, and blackmail continue to plague the experience of gay men, trans people, and other gender and sexual minorities seeking testing, treatment, and care for sexual health needs. MSMGF looks forward to engaging with Madrigal-Borloz on these urgent issues.”

Madrigal-Borloz brings a wealth of experience in international human rights law, having previously worked at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and having been involved in the establishment of the Commission’s LGBTI Rapporteurship. He currently serves as the Secretary-General of the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT) and was instrumental in the creation of policy on LGBTI persons that has since been adapted by the UN Sub-Committee for the Prevention of Torture. Madrigal-Borloz is also a signatory to the recently adopted Yogyakarta Principles plus 10, a statement adopted last month in Geneva which delineates the ways that international human rights law applies to people of diverse sexual orientations, gender identities, and sex characteristics.

Madrigal-Borloz is the second person to fill the Independent Expert on SOGI position, which was created in June 2016 through resolution A/HRC/RES/32/2 and is mandated for three years with the possibility of renewal in 2019. His work will build off the efforts of Thai international law Professor Vitit Muntarbhorn, who produced two initial reports, conducted a country visit to Argentina, and responded to several specific human rights violations facing LGBTI people before resigning for health reasons.

MSMGF welcomes Madrigal-Borloz and hopes the mandate will continue to investigate and exert leadership on the following issues:

  • The impact of punitive laws and policies that criminalize LGBTI people and people living with HIV, especially regarding access to health services and medicines;
  • Effective strategies to reduce stigma, discrimination, and violence in health systems;
  • The ability of community-based service providers and drop-in clinics to serve gay, bisexual men, trans people, and other vulnerable communities without interference and harassment;
  • The inclusion of accurate, comprehensive, and tailored messages in health and sexuality education that gives LGBTI youth the ability to make informed decisions about their sexual health;
  • Adequate protections for LGBTI people living with and affected by HIV to live with dignity and without suffering humiliation by the media;
  • Meaningful engagement of civil society and community-based LGBTI groups in the formation of health and human rights policies at the national- and regional-levels; and,
  • Strategies for protecting LGBTI people who face multiple forms of oppression due to intersectional identities, including LGBTI ethnic minorities, migrants, people living with disabilities, people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, and sex workers.

The Independent Expert on SOGI plays a unique role in highlighting best practices and existing gaps in protections for fundamental human rights of LGBTI people. We look forward to collaborating with Victor Madrigal-Borloz to ensure the health and human rights needs of all people are included in this effort.