February 14, 2023
According to interviews Human Rights Watch conducted with 66 lesbian, bisexual, and queer (LBQ+) activists, researchers, lawyers, and movement leaders in 26 countries between March and September 2022, forced marriage is one of ten key areas of human rights abuses most affecting LBQ+ women's lives. Human Rights Watch identified the following areas of LBQ+ rights as those in need of immediate investigation, advocacy, and policy reform. This report explores how the denial of LBQ+ people's rights in these ten areas impacts their lives and harms their ability to exercise and enjoy the advancement of more traditionally recognized LGBT rights and women's rights:the right to free and full consent to marriage;land, housing, and property rights;freedom from violence based on gender expression;freedom from violence and discrimination at work;freedom of movement and the right to appear in public without fear of violence;parental rights and the right to create a family;the right to asylum;the right to health, including services for sexual, reproductive, and mental health;protection and recognition as human rights defenders; andaccess to justice.This investigation sought to analyze how and in what circumstances the rights of LBQ+ people are violated, centering LBQ+ identity as the primary modality for inclusion in the report. Gender-nonconforming, non-binary, and transgender people who identify as LBQ+ were naturally included. At the same time, a key finding of the report is that the fixed categories "cisgender" and "transgender" are ill-suited for documenting LBQ+ rights violations, movements, and struggles for justice. As will be seen in this report, people assigned female at birth bear the weight of highly gendered expectations which include marrying and having children with cisgender men, and are punished in a wide range of ways for failing or refusing to meet these expectations. Many LBQ+ people intentionally decenter cisgender men from their personal, romantic, sexual, and economic lives. In this way, the identity LBQ+ itself is a transgression of gendered norms. Whether or not an LBQ+ person identifies as transgender as it is popularly conceptualized, the rigidly binary (and often violently enforced) gender boundaries outside of which LBQ+ people already live, regardless of their gender identity, may help to explain why the allegedly clear division between "cisgender" and "transgender" categories simply does not work for many LBQ+ communities. This report aims to explore and uplift, rather than deny, that reality.