In recent years, a number of States have made significant efforts in order to enhance the level of protection of the rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning (LGBTQ+) community members. Examples include enacting of new laws banning discrimination, penalizing homophobic hate crimes and facilitating transgender individuals in obtaining official documents reflecting their new gender, provision of relevant training to the members of the judiciary, police, prison staff, and launching of awareness raising initiatives targeting various components of society. This issue is also receiving unprecedented attention at inter-governmental level: in June 2011, the Human Rights Council adopted Resolution 17/19, which is the first United Nations resolution on sexual orientation and gender identity, in which “grave concern” was expressed in relation to the violence and discrimination that individuals face because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. The Resolution prepared the ground for the first official United Nations Report on the issue prepared by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, whose findings formed the basis of a panel discussion that took place at the Council in March 2012. This event represented the first time ever in which a United Nations intergovernmental body had held a formal debate on the subject.
As gender identity represents a particularly important dimension of an individual’s private life, international human rights law and courts, particularly, the European Court of Human Rights, have been playing a key role in removing the obstacles hindering its enjoyment, also favoring an evolutive interpretation of fundamental rights so as to cover one’s sexual sphere.
Despite these results, there remain a worrisome number of Countries and instances where a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity leads to violation of human rights. As a consequence, too many individuals are still being negated the effective and equal enjoyment of fundamental freedoms in the civil, political, economic, and cultural spheres. In various countries, the denial or inability of governments to address abuses committed against LGBTQ+ community members give birth to an environment of unaccountability where such abuses then increase.
As these issues have come increasingly to the heart of international and local human rights debates today, UNICRI and John Cabot University* are pleased to offer a Summer School exploring the critical areas which still remain unsolved.
During an intensive one-week Summer School, students will be guided in critically examining how the human rights system engages with LGBTQ+ issues. The programme will also aim to assess international and regional policies and strategies addressing the differential treatment of LGBTQ+s across the world.
The Summer School thus offers an opportunity to deepen knowledge in an emerging area of law - LGBTQ+ Rights Law - the understanding of how international human rights guarantees may be expanded and implemented in practice. Virtuous practices and established examples of violations are also examined with a view to strengthen participants’ capacity to promote public policies and strategies, and become active advocates of change.
The Summer School, which will take place at John Cabot University (Rome, Italy), couples more theoretical lectures with roundtable discussions, dynamic case studies, and practical exercises. The faculty of the Summer School is composed by leading scholars and academics from John Cabot and other Universities, representatives of the United Nations system, international human rights bodies and the civil society.
In this unique learning environment, participants will have the opportunity to interact with international recognized experts, meet peers and build lasting professional relationships with young professionals and students from all over the world. This intense experience fosters intercultural dialogue and a deeper understanding of some of the world’s most complex and debated issues. To date, past UNICRI short courses and summer schools have gathered participants from many different countries, among which are, Afghanistan, Austria, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, Check Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Kenya, India, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Nigeria, Norway, Palestine, Poland, Santo Domingo, Slovenia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, Togo, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
* John Cabot University, founded in 1972, is an independent, American four-year liberal arts university offering undergraduate degrees and study abroad programmes to English-speaking students from all over the world. It provides an international and stimulating environment to the participants and offers a state-of-the-art learning environment, including a library, canteen, and accommodations.