Breaking the Silence: Criminalisation of Lesbians and Bisexual Women and its Impacts

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This resource is relevant for humanitarian practitioners for its contribution to the dearth of knowledge on how lesbian and bisexual women are criminalised and persecuted for their sexuality, and the effects criminalisation have on other aspects of these women’s lives. This includes their exposure to physical and sexual violence, family control and lack of autonomy, and discrimination in education, employment and housing. Significantly, it contributes to the current lack of disaggregated data on the particular experiences of women that make up the ‘L’ and ‘B’ in LGBTIQ+.

This 52-page resource identifies the history, extent and nature of laws that criminalise consensual sexual relations between women, and the homophobia anti-LGBT criminal laws exacerbate to the detriment of lesbians and bisexual women. Chapter 2 presents a historical overview of laws and legal mechanisms used to discriminate against lesbian and bi women and the countries that expressly prohibit same-gender relationships between women.

Chapter 3 considers the intersections of gender and sexuality of lesbian and bi women and how these identities shape experiences of discrimination and bias. This section presents data on the specific forms of human rights abuses lesbian and bi women face and how societal gender norms shape these abuses. Chapter 4 includes a graphic representation of the human rights law violations lesbian and bi women face. Chapter 5 explores the limitations of existing research and data collection methodologies. This touches on the relative invisibility of lesbian and bi women with the LGBTIQ+ community.

This resource includes useful graphs and tables, including a map of countries that criminalise lesbians and bisexual women as well as a table of country Gender Gap Index scores of criminalising versus non-criminalising countries.

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"By virtue of the intersecting forms of discrimination they face both as women and as sexual minorities, they also suffer persecution and rights violations in different ways or to different degrees than gay and bisexual men, including sexual violence, forced or pressured heterosexual marriages, lack of autonomy over reproductive health and choices, and family violence and control."

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This 52-page resource identifies the history, extent and nature of laws that criminalise consensual sexual relations between women, and the homophobia anti-LGBT criminal laws exacerbate to the detriment of lesbians and bisexual women. Chapter 2 presents a historical overview of laws and legal mechanisms used to discriminate against lesbian and bi women and the countries that expressly prohibit same-gender relationships between women.

Chapter 3 considers the intersections of gender and sexuality of lesbian and bi women and how these identities shape experiences of discrimination and bias. This section presents data on the specific forms of human rights abuses lesbian and bi women face and how societal gender norms shape these abuses. Chapter 4 includes a graphic representation of the human rights law violations lesbian and bi women face. Chapter 5 explores the limitations of existing research and data collection methodologies. This touches on the relative invisibility of lesbian and bi women with the LGBTIQ+ community.

This resource includes useful graphs and tables, including a map of countries that criminalise lesbians and bisexual women as well as a table of country Gender Gap Index scores of criminalising versus non-criminalising countries.