In Highlight: ILGA World Database

28 March 2024

Stakeholders at both national and international levels have introduced a growing number of digital human rights tracking tools and databases (DHRTTDs) designed to facilitate a more holistic approach to human rights monitoring and implementation.

Via its DHRTTDs Directory, the Geneva Human Rights Platform (GHRP) provides a comprehensive list and description of such key tools and databases. But how to navigate them? Which tool should be used for what, and by whom?

In this interview, Milica Mirković, Intern at the Geneva Human Rights Platform and Lucas Ramón Mendos, research manager and lead for the ILGA World Database project, help us better understand the specificities of the March highlight of the directory: the ILGA World Database.

What is special about this tool? What differentiates the ILGA World Database from other tracking tools and databases?

The ILGA World Database has a multifaceted approach to educating and empowering users navigating legal and human rights issues pertaining to sexual orientation, gender identity, expression, and sex characteristics (SOGIESC). Beyond catalogIuing laws, legal instruments, and United Nations human rights mechanism recommendations, it offers clear, plain-language explanations alongside direct links to original legal sources and thus serves also as an educational tool. Beyond offering a carefully curated dataset, it is a dynamic hub that allows learning about recent developments, progress and backtracking, and fosters deeper understanding, critical analysis and informed engagement with SOGIESC issues.

The ILGA World Database prioritises user comprehension and engagement. By providing comprehensive yet easily digestible explanations, it bridges the gap between legal intricacies and lay understanding, empowering users from diverse backgrounds to navigate complex legal landscapes.

A useful feature of the ILGA World Database is the ‘Advanced Search’ tool, which allows users to refine their queries and access the information they seek. Users can specify criteria such as country, legal category, and keywords, effectively narrowing results. The ‘Topics’ search filter is particularly convenient, enabling cross-category searches and providing topic-specific results across domestic legal frameworks and UN data (treaty bodies, special procedures, and UPR). Sorting and filtering options allow users to prioritize results based on relevance, date, country, or region.

The website of the Database is available in English and Spanish. Furthermore, under the “Jurisdiction” entry, which allows users to access all data concerning one specific country, they can read the latest news referring to each country also in its national language.

Recognized for its contribution to sharing knowledge and providing access to key data, the ILGA World Database received a silver medal for ‘Best Use of Data‘ at the esteemed Anthem Awards in January 2024.

Are there other tools relying on ILGA World?

Yes, the ILGA World Monitor, which is a data aggregator developed by ILGA World’s Research Programme to complement the database's functionality.

The ILGA World Monitor operates in close-to-real-time, capturing daily legal news on LGBTI issues across 70 languages through 153 classifiers/keywords. It facilitates weekly debriefs on unfolding events and provides a constant influx of data for regular updates to the ILGA World Database. By significantly reducing the time and effort traditionally required for research, the ILGA World Monitor enhances ILGA World’s capacity to advocate for LGBTI rights globally.

Can you give a concrete example of how it can be used to monitor national implementation of international human rights obligations?

Suppose a human rights organization aims to monitor a country's compliance with international human rights obligations and recommendations regarding sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or sex characteristics, such as those issued by treaty bodies, special procedures, or those accepted during their Universal Periodic Review. In such a scenario, the ILGA World Database can be used to track relevant laws, policies, and legal developments within that country. Furthermore, the database keeps up with not only the enacted legislation, but also the debates and discussions brought to political domestic fora, the introduction of bills, and ongoing strategic litigation. By examining entries related to specific legal categories in the ILGA World Database, such as anti-discrimination laws, hate crime legislation, or gender recognition policies, researchers can assess the extent to which national laws align with international human rights standards, as well as the extent to which action has been taken in response to UN recommendations.

This analysis enables organisations to identify gaps, discrepancies, or areas of concern in national legal frameworks and advocate for necessary reforms to ensure compliance with international human rights obligations.

Who are its main users?

The ILGA World Database caters to a diverse range of users, including:

  1. Legal professionals: Lawyers, judges, legal scholars, and human rights advocates rely on the database for legal research, analysis, and litigation strategies related to SOGIESC issues.
  2.  Activists and advocacy groups: they utilise the database and the ILGA World Monitor to support their advocacy efforts, monitor legal developments, and formulate evidence-based campaigns for policy change.
  3. Media professionals: Journalists, reporters, and media organisations leverage the database to access accurate and up-to-date information for reporting, analysis, and awareness-raising on SOGIESC issues.
  4. Researchers and academics: Scholars, researchers, and students access the database for academic research and policy analysis.
  5. Government officials and policymakers: Especially in countries where there is political will to advance the cause for LGBTI equality, government agencies, policymakers, and other stakeholders use the database to inform policymaking, legislative reforms, and human rights reporting related to SOGIESC issues.
  6. Asylum seeker legal aid providers: Organisations providing legal aid to asylum seekers track enforcement of relevant laws through the database, aiding in their efforts to support LGBTQI+ individuals seeking asylum.

Are there any upcoming developments related to ILGA World Database that you would like to share?

ILGA World is continuously working to enhance the ILGA World Database and expand its capabilities to better serve the needs of users globally. Regular updates and additions ensure the database reflects legal and policy developments affecting LGBTI rights worldwide.

In 2024, ILGA World plans to expand the database's coverage to include additional legal categories, such as explicit legal protections against school bullying. This expansion aims to provide more comprehensive and diverse insights into the field of protection against discrimination in education.

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