Report on Gender Theory

June 2021 (part 1) 2021 and July 2021 (part 2)
Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity
The law of inclusion: : To the HRC at its 47th session, June 2021 and
Practices of exclusion: To the GA at its 76th session, October 2021
The law of inclusion: A/HRC/47/27
Practices of exclusion: A/76/152
reader-friendly summary


Gender theory informed approaches recognize that the meanings attached to sex (and other) differences in relation to social roles, behaviours and expectations are socially created. They also challenge the assumption that gender identity necessarily correlates with biological sex and recognize the validity of a wide range of sexual orientations and gender identities. The recognition of gender as determined by social construct is common to many feminisms, as well as LGBT theory, as is the recognition that gender, sex and sexuality interconnect with other axes of power and identification such as race, age, ethnicity, religion, [dis]ability and health status among others. These approaches provide, for example, recognition of how race is gendered and gender is raced, as well as the many other factors which affect how one is allocated rights, privileges or deficits and limits to rights through social regulation.

Comprehensive and intersectional gender analysis has influenced the interpretation of international human rights law, and many States have adopted gender as a key concept in laws and policies aimed at protecting women and LGBT persons against violence and discrimination. Nevertheless, within multilateral and regional organisations, among other fora, there are currently narratives that, under different lines of characterization (including the accusation of so-called “gender ideology”), seek to eliminate the gender framework from international human rights law instruments and processes, and national legislative and policy documents. These attempts could impact progress achieved over the last four decades on gender equality and the recognition of sexual and gender-based violence and violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

In addition, there has been a steep rise in the use of platforms by extremist political leaders and religious groups to promote bigotry, dehumanize persons based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, and foster stigma and intolerance among their constituencies. This trend is generated through orchestrated and well-resourced strategies that aim at negatively impacting the progressive recognition of human rights standards relating to gender equality and sexuality. The reports issued by the Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in 2021 address this issue from two complementary angles.


The first part, “The law of inclusion”, investigates how the concept of gender is enshrined in international human rights law and concludes that gender identity and expression are protected thereunder, and that gender-based approaches and intersectionality provide a sharp lens for analyzing the root causes of violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. They enable the analysis of multiple asymmetries of power, deriving from how sex is understood within society, including those that feed violence and discrimination against women in all their diversity.

The second part, “Practices of exclusion”, analyses backlash against the incorporation of gender frameworks in international human rights law. It concludes that exclusionary narratives and actions related to gender and gender identity exploit preconceptions, stigma and prejudice, creating risks for the rights of all women (including lesbian, bisexual and trans women) and contributing to the perpetuation of violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

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PDF: English


This research process included a literature review, and a call for inputs, in response to which 529 submissions were received, including a total of 42 submissions from State entities stemming from all regions, and 484 contributions from non-State stakeholders, including 202 from organizations and 282 from individuals. The Independent Expert is humbled by this highly participative process: in total, he received specific information concerning 88 UN Member States, covering all geographic regions and a significant proportion of the populations, cultures, legal traditions and religions of the world.

Submissions are being processes for publication and qualifying submissions will be posted shortly

Number (and percentage) by region

Number (and percentage) by stakeholder type

Number by stakeholder type and by region