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Piovesan Shares Efforts to Protect LGBTI Rights in the Americas

Discrimination against the LGBTI community is just as prevalent as ever, according to Flávia Piovesan, an international human rights lawyer and former vice-president of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

“Being LGBTI or expressing a kind of sexual orientation which is not confined to the binary logic is seen mostly as a sin, as a crime, or as a disease,” Piovesan said.

The Boston College Latin American Studies program, BC Organization of Latin American Affairs, and BC Law School’s Latin American Law Students Association welcomed Piovesan to campus on Tuesday to share the Inter-American System’s work to protect LGBTI rights.

The Inter-American System is a regional human rights organization, responsible for promoting and upholding the rights of those living in the 35 independent countries that comprise the Americas, according to its website

“I think the core of the [Inter-American] system … deals with human suffering and the need to provide the remedies to safeguard human dignity … paying special attention to the persons and groups facing special vulnerabilities,” Piovesan said.

According to Piosevan, the LGBTI community faces many forms of discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression around the world. She pointed to her home country, Brazil, as an example.

“Hate speech can kill, especially if the ones who are in power enforce it,” Piovesan said. “It’s amazing to see in [Brazil] how when the president of a nation has this narrative based on hate speech … [it] fosters violence, discrimination, and hostility against LGBTI persons.”

Piosevan also emphasized how the LGBTI community is made up of a diverse array of cultural backgrounds and viewpoints. 

“The LGBTI community is not homogenous,” said Piosevan. “Some LGBTI people could be more vulnerable than others due to other criteria and intersectional factors, such as race, ethnicity, age.”

Piovesan said the Inter-American System developed a transformative mandate initiative, which provides a legal basis for protecting human rights.

“The transformative mandate of the Inter-American System has this goal to dismantle the structural clauses which imply structural human rights violations,” Piosevan said. “Giving voice to the voiceless, and giving visibility to the ones who are invisible.”

Ultimately, the only way to truly help the LGBTI community is to enact government legislation across the world that prohibits discrimination and ensures equal human rights, according to Piovesan.

“We demand from the state measures of different nature, such as the payment of economic compensation, to investigate and punish perpetrators, adopting due diligence,” Piovesan said. “So, adopting new public policies, new legal framework are key essential dimensions of the Inter-American System.”

February 10, 2023