Queer people’s experience of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes is not new. From the British Indian Penal Code of 1860, the Holocaust, the ongoing anti-gay purges in Chechnya, and legal shifts which persecute members of the LGBTQI+ community and allies, LGBTQI+ communities have been, and still are, deliberately targeted by systematic violence and discrimination. Some of these campaigns can be described as mass atrocity crimes, while others sound the alarm and significantly increase risk for the incidence of mass atrocity crimes against LGBTQI+ communities across the world. And yet understanding of this experience is not well-developed nor widely-discussed. In fact, queer people’s experiences can often be deliberately silenced in policy and research on identity-based violence and mass atrocities - a problem which is further compounded by threats to safety faced by queer populations that can make it dangerous for them to make their experiences and expertise heard and accounted for.
As members of the atrocity prevention field, we know that widespread or systematic violent targeting of LGBTQI+ people can often look different from the widespread or systematic violent targeting of ethnic, indigenous, national, religious and racial groups that traditionally dominate the atrocity prevention and response agenda. However, crimes against LGBTQI+ individuals and communities may still meet the conceptual and legal thresholds of mass atrocity crimes, including genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
We know, too, that the absence of LGBTQI+ professionals and queer analysis from atrocity prevention work normalises and institutionalises pre-existing heteronormative and patriarchal structures. This perpetuates the exclusion of LGBTQI+ communities in - and from - atrocity prevention work.