The Importance of Data in Ensuring LGBTI Inclusion

United Nations Side Event for HLPF

Amidst a fully packed room, OutRight along with the United Nations Development Programme, RFSL- the Swedish Federation for LGBTQ rights, the Global Forum for MSM and HIV, and co-sponsored by the Permanent Mission of Argentina to the UN, held a side-event, “The Importance of Data in Ensuring LGBTI Inclusion in Agenda 2030,” as part of the United Nations High Level Political Forum (HLPF). The side-event analyzed the ways Agenda 2030 is applicable to the lives and needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) people.

The discussion opened with a statement from the Deputy Permanent Representative of Argentina, Gabriela Martinic, who readily stated, “We strongly believe that the achievement of sustainable development is closely linked to the extent to which people’s human rights are respected, protected and fulfilled,” continuing, “Argentina advocates for the inclusion of LGBTI people within the SDG framework, in order achieve full equal rights on all development priorities.

It was followed by an overview of the Sustainable Development Goals and how they are inclusive of LGBTI people. This session was presented by the event’s moderator, Micah Grzywnowicz, from RFSL - The Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Rights.

Grzywnowicz contextualized the night's conversation by highlighting, “It is crucial to remember that the overarching principle of “Leaving no one behind,” promises the inclusion of all people regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics. Agenda 2030 must be interpreted as inclusive of LGBTI realities and therefore the implementation of all Sustainable Development Goals must address LGBTI issues.

There were also discussions on the UNDP-led LGBTI Inclusion Index, presented by Mandeep Dhaliwal, Director of UNDP's HIV, Health and Development Group, which aims to bridge data gaps to support inclusion of LGBTI people in the domains of health, education, economic well-being, political and civic participation, and personal security and violence.

OutRight’s Global Research Coordinator, Dr Felicity Daly, and our partner Stephen Leonelli from the Global Forum on MSM and HIV (MSMGF) presented findings from Agenda 2030 for LGBTI Health and Well-Being, a briefing paper prepared for the HLPF which shows that the available data suggest LGBTI people’s health is consistently poorer than the general population.

Dr. Daly pointed out during her presentation, “There are differential health outcomes across LGBTI communities and intersectional forms of discrimination have significant impacts on health,” noting that, “Lesbian and bisexual women, transgender and intersex people in particular remain under-studied and under-served.

Stephen Leonelli echoed Dr. Daly’s sentiments saying, “Anti-LGBTI violence, discrimination, and higher age of consent laws obstruct the right to health and leave LGBTI people behind in implementation of the SDGs.”

The panel also featured Niluka Perera, the Regional Coordinator for Youth Voices Count, who considered the implications of the tools and recommendations discussed from the perspective of a community-based organization serving vulnerable young LGBTI people in Asia and the Pacific.

Niluka raised in the presentation that, “We need to make a conscious decision right now that we need to engage young LGBT people in this conversation as we progress in it,” noting that, “When there is no data, people are made invisible...and young people have been left behind.

The panelists shared detailed recommendations on the type of data and indicators that Member States should consider in order to effectively monitor progress on LGBTI health needs and ensure that implementation of SDG 3 is truly in line with the principle of “leave no one behind.”

The event ended with a question and answer session, where attendees were able to both ask questions and give comments. Among the attendants was Her Excellency Kajsa B Olofsgard, the Ambassador from the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs on the Global Goals for Sustainable Development. The Ambassador gave an intervention, stressing the importance of LGBTI inclusion in the monitoring and implementation of the SDGs, saying,

“The integration of LGBTI people is at the heart of the fulfilment of the 2030 agenda. The 2030 agenda is about everyone’s right. It is and should be read as a strong appeal against discrimination on any ground, and the LGBTI community is one that suffers hard from extensive discrimination. We believe that when we formalize our national action plans, we need to be very clear that we integrate active actions on stopping discrimination on the LGBTI community. This has to be done throughout the entire agenda. This cannot limit our actions through specific goals. In order to do this in an efficient way, we need to understand what is happening on the ground. Data is needed.”

The prevalent theme stressed by all participants during the event was the need for Member States to collect and disaggregate data by sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics for all SDG indicators where possible. It is clear that in order to truly “Leave no one behind,” LGBTIQ people must be accounted for.

UN Event on the Importance of Data for LGBTIQ Health