Discrimination due to gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity: fostering a gender justice approach
Discrimination due to one’s gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity may target girls, boys, and LGBTQIA+ children. This form of discrimination can manifest in a plethora of ways, including verbal harassment, physical and sexual violence, and systemically hostile environments fostered by the inaction (or actions) of governments, schools, and community leaders, along with public discrimination in the form of legal barriers to healthcare, school involvement, and self-determination for girls and LGBTQIA+ youth in some countries, fuelling mistrust in institutions and academic disengagement.
Sexual and gender-based violence is a predictor of young girls’ entry into the child justice system. Victims of sex trafficking are often arrested on prostitution charges and punished as perpetrators, as opposed to being supported as survivors.[i] LGBTQIA+ youth often face bullying, harassment, lack of access to facilities, and neglect, creating risk factors that can lead to criminal conduct and constitute an entry point to the justice system. Justice system actors are largely inept to address the particular needs of LGBTQIA+ youth and also tend to have low levels of understanding on gender sensitivity, leading to further discrimination within the system.
In this regard, it is crucial to develop LGBTQIA+ specific policies and services that include families and communities. Acting from a place of justice means respecting and safeguarding the ability of children to lead lives with reasonable confidence that their gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity will not interrupt or undermine their health, education, or eventual livelihood.
[i] Cf. Fier (Friesland), https://english.wegwijzermensenhandel.nl/Protection/
Disclaimer: Authors are the Global Initiative on Justice with Children with pro-bono support from Baker McKenzie. This section represents one among other positions of some members of the World Congress Consortium and does not necessarily represent the view of all institutions and members involved.