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The obligation of companies not to discriminate against LGBTQI+ people in their operations and business relationships

In the Olivera Fuentes vs. Peru case, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights also analyzed the obligations of companies not to discriminate against LGBTQI+ people in their operations and business relationships. In this blog we will comment on the relevant conclusions of the Court on this point.

The Inter-American Court reiterated that it is the responsibility of all companies to respect human rights, which includes the rights of the LGBTQI+ population. In particular, the Court noted that “[…] companies must ensure that they do not discriminate against LGBTIQ+ suppliers and distributors or LGBTIQ+ customers when they access their products and services. This implies not only avoiding discrimination, but also dealing with problems of violence, harassment, intimidation, mistreatment, incitement to violence and other abuses against LGBTIQ+ people in which companies may be involved through their products, services or commercial relationships. Companies must also ensure that LGBTIQ+ customers «can access their products and services» (paragraph 103 of the Judgment).

With the foregoing, the Inter-American Court opens an important path for the legal protection of the prohibition of non-discrimination based on sexual orientation, identity or gender expression in private relationships, particularly in the commercial sphere. The principles of contractual freedom or the right of conscientious objection that could be invoked by private subjects to not provide or contract the services of LGBTQI+ people, would have to yield in favor of the full protection of equality and non-discrimination protected by the American Convention on Human Rights and the Costa Rican Constitution. Thus, people who have been denied a service or have not been considered as a provider for reasons of their sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, could find more legal options for the protection of their rights.

Another important point is that the judgment would allow LGBTQI+ people who have been victims of violence or any other form of discrimination when receiving or providing a service to a company, could have access to legal measures against the company involved.

At CELIG we provide specialized services to the LGBTQI+ community. If you want more information or make an appointment with us, call us at 4800-0248 or write to

We are located in San José, Barrio Escalante.

M.Sc. Ana Isabel Sibaja Rojas

CELIG – Center for Equal Litigation