New law passed to protect LGBTI community from hate crimes
Civil society groups have recently been shining a light on issues facing Mongolia's LGBTI community. In a recent interview, prominent activist and founder of Mongolia's LGBT Centre Anaraa Nyamdorj spoke at length about the pervasive discrimination faced by the LGBTI community. Nyamdorj cited multiple concerns over harassment of LGBTI people, attacks on activists and a worrying culture of impunity for those who perpetrate violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. In the interview, Nyamdorj stated in regards to the LGBTI community's situation in the country that:
“Most are afraid to come out, and both verbal and physical abuse are common...people see us as weird and have a lot of misconceptions”.
As the only LGBTI organisation in Mongolia, the Centre plays a vital role in documenting threats against the LGBTI community. In a recent report published earlier in 2017, the Centre documented a situation wherein prominent activists can be subject to surveillance by Mongolian security services, who are also known to monitor and photograph participants at LGBTI social and political events. Similarly, drawing from testimonies from within the community, the report also documented cases of LGBTI people being arbitrarily detained, as well as allegations of mistreatment during detention, such as acts of sexual violence.
In keeping with the focus on issues facing the LGBTI community, on 28th July 2017 during the 120th session of the United Nations Human Rights Committee, Mongolian authorities were urged to promote and uphold the civic freedoms of LGBTI individuals, activists and organisations. The committee's report stated that:
"The State party [Mongolia] should also promote and guarantee freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly for LGBTI persons, and should abstain from any unjustified interference with the exercise of these rights and ensure that any restrictions imposed comply with the strict requirements of articles 19, 21 and 22 of the Covenant and are not applied in a discriminatory manner".
The relentless advocacy by groups such as the LGBT Centre paid off when the government of Mongolia passed new legislation to protect the LGBTI community from hate crimes. Effective from 1st July 2017, the new law criminalises the discrimination of people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. The bill, which has been under consideration since 2014, will hopefully provide improved protections for LGBTI people in Mongolia.
In keeping with the theme of LGBTI rights, a huge celebration was organised for Pride and Equality Days in late August and early September. After securing funding from members of the community and their supporters, the LGBT Centre organised a series of events to celebrate the LGBTI community in Mongolia. There were no reports of the parades, concerts or meetings being unlawfully disrupted or prevented.