L'oeil de la Genève Internationale
July 2016

On 30 June 2016, the UN Human Rights Council voted to appoint an Independent Expert to investigate and report on human rights abuses against individuals based on sexual orientation and gender identity. It is the first time that the Human Rights Council - or any UN inter-governmental body - has established a mandate specifically dedicated to protecting the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. The proposal to establish the role of an Independent Expert was contained in a resolution proposed by seven Latin American countries (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Colombia, Mexico and Uruguay). The resolution was adopted by vote with 23 States voting in favour of the proposal.

The decision reflects growing awareness of the scale and scope of violence and discrimination directed at LGBT and intersex people. In a series of reports issued over the past five years, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has exposed wide-spread human rights violations, including hate-motivated killings, physical attacks, sexual assaults, torture, bullying, arbitrary arrest and detention, and discrimination in access to basic goods and services. According to the same reports, in 73 countries, same-sex relationships are punishable under the criminal law, exposing millions of people to blackmail, extortion and the threat of arrest, imprisonment or even, in five countries, the death penalty.

In the fall of 2013, while riding a bus, Sasha Fleischman was set on fire. The photographer Chloé Aftel was commissioned by the San Francisco Magazine to shoot the portraits of those who define themselves as non-binary or as agender, refusing to define themselves as strictly male or female. Each portrait was taken in a meaningful place for each subject, revealing distinctive narratives. The "Genderqueer" series notably won the 2014 International Photography Award IPA and the Lens Culture Portrait Award.