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Advocating for older LGBTI persons: Visit of the IE Older Persons to Peru

From 11 to 22 March 2024, the United Nations (UN) Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons, Dr Claudia Mahler, conducted an official visit to Peru to assess the human rights situation of older persons in the country. During the visit, LGBTI groups engaged with the UN Independent Expert to raise the specific issues faced by older LGBTI persons, particularly their exclusion from public policies and lack of special protection.

A photo with the UN Independent Expert on Older Persons, Ms Claudia Mahler, and LGBTI activists in the ILGA World photo frame.

With the support of ILGA World, Centro de Promoción y Defensa de los Derechos Sexuales y Reproductivos (Promsex), Comunidad Homosexual Esperanza Región Loreto (CHERL), Lesbianas Independientes Feministas Socialistas (LIFS), Más Igualdad Perú, and Movimiento Homosexual de Lima (MHOL ) participated in three meetings with the Independent Expert in Lima, Ayacucho and Iquitos. Based on a more extensive online consultation with the activists, ILGA World also submitted written input to the mandate in English and Spanish on the situation of older LGBTI persons in the country.

Our Consultant on UN Treaty Bodies, Andrea Baldwin, supported the activists and attended the meetings in person, while our Senior Program Officer on UN Special Procedures and SDGs, Guillermo Ricalde, and Junior Consultant on UN Special Procedures and SDGs, Venus Aves, facilitated their engagement with the UN Independent Expert.

Multiple vulnerabilities or older LGBTI persons

During the meeting, the activists discussed how older LGBTI persons encounter unique barriers to the full enjoyment of their human rights due to their age, as well as their sexual orientation, gender identity and expression and sex characteristics (SOGIESC), including:

  • Insufficient legal protection, especially for those further marginalized by other identities such as migrant or refugee status.
  • Limited to no access to healthcare, housing, employment and social security, including adequate retirement, and the denial of the right to a dignified death.
  • Economic insecurity and lack of state-supported system of care and support.
  • Non-recognition of same-sex partnerships, and difficulties in accessing legal gender recognition.

As part of her preliminary findings, the Independent Expert recommends establishing dedicated care centers to address the particular vulnerabilities of older LGBTI persons, and collecting data disaggregated by sexual orientation and gender identity to effectively respond to their issues through evidence-based public policy.

A photo of activists and the UN Independent Expert on Older Persons, Claudia Mahler, gathered together in the ILGA World photo frame.

While the UN Independent Expert has already highlighted the “heightened risk of violence and discrimination” that older LGBTI persons face in 2023, after her engagement with LGBTI activists in Peru, she also raised alarm on several issues, including:

  • Discrimination in healthcare settings, including misgendering and stigma related to HIV.
  • Lack of access to gender-affirming care, including hormone therapy.
  • Rejection by family members.
  • Discrimination in care centers.
  • Lack of protection and abuse in prison settings, exacerbated by housing policies trans people based on their assigned sex at birth.