- Joint Declaration of the OAS General Secretariat and the LGBTTTI & TS Coalition regarding Human Mobility in the Americas
WASHINGTON, USA – Human mobility is not a recent phenomenon. People have historically migrated, either forcibly or voluntarily, in search of better living conditions or to escape complex situations that put their lives and the full exercise of their citizenship at risk. When human mobility is forced, this pressure to migrate can be motivated by various factors, including violence, human rights violations, political convictions, food insecurity, discrimination based on sex and/or gender, and sexual orientation.
Migration has been constantly linked to the life experiences of people with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions. In many cases, the places of origin of these people have forced them to migrate from small, traditional cities to larger, more liberal ones, and from conservative, less developed countries to countries with progressive and apparently more developed tendencies. However, even in these places of reception or destination of these people, the environments are often hostile to those who break the canons of the binary conception of gender.
It is essential that States guarantee the right to seek and receive asylum, as well as access to complementary protection mechanisms for LGBTIQ+ populations. Likewise, on occasions, States do not create spaces for the debate of public policies on migration and a differential approach, ignoring the particular needs of the most vulnerable population groups. Frequently, these tasks are left to social organizations, which should only be a support and not a replacement for the functions and responsibilities of the State.
Migrant and forcibly displaced LGBTIQ+ populations experience these contexts even more harshly, as the historical violence and discrimination they have suffered are compounded by social and health consequences such as those triggered by COVID-19. Migrants in general, and LGBTIQ+ migrant populations in particular, encounter difficulties in their mobility due to the lack of clarity of migration policy in several countries in the region and the excessive and disproportionate use of force by authorities at the borders. Similarly, there is a lack of knowledge among public officials, migration agents, law enforcement, justice operators and other governmental actors about sexual diversity and gender identity.
LGBTIQ+ migrants, refugees and returnees face a social, political and economic reality in which access to formal and decent work is very precarious in several countries of the region. These people, not having a heteronormative and binary gender behavior, suffer greater labor precariousness, leaving as only two possibilities: informal work and sex work, especially in the case of transgender people. Therefore, integration programs should include actions aimed at transforming discriminatory practices based on homophobia, transphobia and related forms of intolerance in the workplace.
In addition, LGBTIQ+ migrants and displaced persons are exposed to the invisibility of the violence of which they are victims, and to being criminalized and revictimized. LGBTIQ+ persons in contexts of human mobility who are victims of crime must be able to access justice and comprehensive reparation on equal terms.
For all of these reasons, the OAS General Secretariat and the LGBTTTI & TS Coalition call on States to create effective and non-stigmatizing channels to denounce acts of violence and discrimination faced by LGBTIQ+ migrants, refugees and returnees from an intersectional perspective. Likewise, human mobility policies must place people and their fundamental rights at the center, within a framework of freedom, dignity and equality and guaranteeing non-discrimination.