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Nepal’s new constitution enshrines the rights of sexual and gender minorities

Over the weekend, Nepal established a new constitution that protects the rights of all of its sexual and gender minority citizens. Below is a press release from the Blue Diamond Society, an LGBT organisation in Nepal, explaining how the new constitution protects LGBTI people in the country:

Press Release, 20 September 2015

We all sexual and gender minority (SGM) community of Nepal would like to express our contentment for the formal promulgation of Nepal’s constitution 2015, as addressed by Hon. President Dr. Ram Baran Yadav today; September 20, 2015. We heartily welcome the new constitution that has included our rights for the first time. We are very delighted that the “Constitution of Nepal, 2015” has granted constitutional rights to sexual and gender minority community (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex/ LGBTI). Under the principle of “Inclusion”, the new constitution of Nepal has acknowledged “Sexual and Gender Minority” community in the article 18 (Right to Equality) &article 42 (Right to Social Justice) and the use of gender neutral language in article 12 (regarding Citizenship ID) has ensured the fundamental rights of sexual and gender minorities. Moreover article 18.2 also include health status as non-discrimination. People living with HIV and other diseases are protected too by the ground “health status”.

With this, Nepal is in the list of very few countries in the world that provides constitutional rights to its sexual and gender minority citizen. In addition, with this progressive provision, Nepal will be an exemplary country to all the human rights advocates and institute in the world, including the one from developed countries. This victory is not only the victory of sexual and gender minority community, but the victory of all Nepali citizens and all Nepali citizens should be proud of it. We all can proudly advocate the stature that Nepal has built in terms of “Inclusivity and Human Rights” in international platforms. Today, we all member of sexual and gender minority community have a feeling of being a full Nepali citizen; we feel proud of ourselves and our country. Though the rights and responsibility provisions for SGM in the constitution is very few compared to other minority community, but we are glad that our country has found a passage that align us along with few countries in the world that has recognized the rights of its SGM citizens in their constitution. Thus, we are excited that SGM issues are embraced under “equality and inclusivity”, and are hopeful that it will be mainstreamed in public government services and instruments. We’ll continue our peaceful advocacy to ensure our further rights. We would like to thank all current Constituent Assembly (CA) members and previous CA members who played pivotal role on securing our rights constitutionally. We would also like to thank Sunil B Pant, previous CA member and founder of Blue Diamond Society, who has been instrumental for all these achievements. Our sincere gratitude to all the political parties, national and international organizations; UN agencies, human rights activists, civil society, journalist, and members of the community for their continual support. We hope to receive similar support to ensure our further rights and for the execution of the rights enshrined in the constitution in coming days.
We would like to convey our sincere commitment to work together with other Nepali citizen towards “New, Inclusive and Prosperous Nepal”.
Jai Nepal
Manisha Dhakal    
Pinky Gurung
Executive Director
Blue Diamond Society

Trans Inquiry Live on Parliament TV

You can watch the Trans Inquiry being held by the Women and Equalities Select Committee live on Parliament TV here: http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/7a72e9e0-ccee-4c46-9c5c-683d9a32fba7

The topics being discussed today are health, as well as hate crime & transphobia. For a full list of the witnesses speaking and some of the topics that may be discussed, head over to the Select Committee’s website where you can read more about it.

Irish Gender Recognition Act signed into law

We’re delighted to hear that Ireland’s Gender Recognition Act is now being signed into law.

The following is a press release from TENI (Transgender Equality Network Ireland):

Tánaiste  Announces Commencement of the Gender Recognition Act 2015

Today (Friday 4th September), TENI warmly welcomed the announcement that the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton, had signed the Commencement Order for the Gender Recognition Act 2015. This will enable trans people to be formally recognised in their preferred gender for all purposes by the Irish State for the first time. As of Tuesday 8th September trans people will be able to apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate from the Department of Social Protection and subsequently obtain a new birth certificate.

“The wait for legal recognition is finally over. The practical and symbolic importance of being recognised in the eyes of the State cannot be underestimated. This is a turning point for trans rights in Ireland and I hope this leads to further positive changes for our community,” said TENI Chief Executive Broden Giambrone. “This is also the end of a very long journey for Dr Lydia Foy who will soon have her correct birth certificate.”

Single Criteria

All trans people, regardless of marital status, will be able to apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate. The Tánaiste stated today that the requirement to be single (so-called ‘forced divorce’ clause) would not be commenced in the legislation: “I am particularly happy that we are in a position to immediately provide this recognition to transgender people regardless of their marital status. The Commencement Order which I have signed specifically excludes those elements of the legislation which required that applicants for gender recognition be single. I was able to do so because the President has very recently signed the results of the Marriage Equality Referendum into law.”

“We warmly welcome the Tánaiste’s remarks and are delighted that trans people who are married or in civil partnerships will be able to apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate,” said TENI Chief Executive Broden Giambrone. “Married trans people will no longer be forced to choose between their families and their right to be legally recognised. This is a great day for families in Ireland.”

Next Steps

TENI will continue to advocate for the meaningful inclusion of young, intersex and non-binary people in the Gender Recognition Act. TENI will also have a step-by-step guide to applying for a Gender Recognition Certificate on our website (www.teni.ie) next week.

The application form for the Gender Recognition Certificate will be available on the Department’s website (www.welfare.ie) on Tuesday 8th September with further background information. The application form can also be obtained through the post by contacting Client Identity Services, Department of Social Protection, Shannon Lodge, Carrick-on-Shannon, Co. Leitrim, N41 KD81 or by phone at 071 9672659.

For Further Information

Contact TENI’s Chief Executive, Broden Giambrone, on 087 135 9816 or director@teni.ie.

About TENI

Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI) seeks to improve conditions and advance the rights and equality of trans people and their families. www.teni.ie / 01 873 3575.

The STA at Glasgow Pride

This Saturday, 22nd August, the STA, Equality Network, and lots of our lovely volunteers lead the Pride march through Glasgow to call for trans rights now. The day started pretty early for us as we arrived in Glasgow at 9 to set up our stalls on the Green, and decorated the float with an assortment of rainbow balloons, placards, banners, and a bunch of bubble guns to fire on the way round!

pride photo 1

After hearing some speeches from our float at the start point of the march (there was a focus on the legal rights that are still unavailable for some in the trans community, the need to make our LGBTI activism global and inclusive, and the specific problems around trans healthcare) we took to the streets to spread our message of trans rights now! The parade was so much fun – we danced our way around central Glasgow and had loads of people watching and waving. It was an amazing opportunity to get to call for trans equality at an event not only attended by many from the LGBTI community, but also watched by hundreds more, who may not be aware of or think about the discrimination that continues to be faced by almost all LGBTI people. We got to be ourselves, have fun, spread our message, and be proud!

After the march, we did the speediest clearing of the float we could, and headed in to the stalls. From ER stall picthere we had a hectic day where we were visited by tonnes of people, some of whom had never heard of us and some more familiar faces! We managed to run out of Equal Recognition postcards as so many people signed up on the day to our call for equality for all trans people. The people signing up were all different ages, cis and trans, knew nothing about it or knew everything about it… it was a really great feeling to know that our call for equality was being heard and that so many people want to support us with it.

So we spent the afternoon chatting with people and letting them know what we do and what we’re working on at the minute and it was loads of fun – everyone was really friendly and it was a great chance to let people know who we are and what we stand for. We gave out lots of info, sold a bunch of trans pride badges, and heard stories from people about how being trans affects their lives. Some people were talking about all of the positive changes in the last few years and how they feel more able to be themselves, whether that’s at work, at home, or popping to the shops. Some people though were telling us about the problems they continue to face due to being trans – discrimination, stereotyping, and a lack of respect. Which is why we all need to keep working hard to make our voices heard and make sure that trans people have the same rights as everyone else, and hopefully we’ll hear less and less of these stories with each new Pride.

At 6 o’clock it was time to pack up and head home, so after carrying many many boxes back to the van (thank you so much to our volunteers for helping!) that was us done! Thank you so much to everyone who was there, who volunteered with us, or who came and said hello – the day wouldn’t have been the same without you.

Polish Senate passes first Gender Recognition Law

TGEU released the following press statement about the passage of Poland’s first ever Gender Recognition Law:

Today, on August 7 2015, the Polish Senate adopted the first gender recognition legislation in the country. Transgender Europe (TGEU) welcomes the Gender Marker Change Act as it brings legal certainty and respect to many trans people and calls upon the Polish president to sign the new Act into law without delay.

The Act is viewed by Polish trans activists as important to establish quick, transparent and accessible gender recognition procedures. Already approved by the Parliament, the law does not foresee physical interventions, but stresses the involvement of mental health experts. In addition to two independent expert statements from a clinical psychologist, psychiatrist or sexologist, a sexologist and/ or a psychologist need to be present during the gender recognition court session. In case of an applicant with minor children, a paediatric psychologist should also be present.

Trans people who are underage, foreign, or married cannot change their documents under this law.

Despite its shortcomings, the new legislation is of major importance for the daily life of trans people in Poland: 78% of Polish trans people think that quicker and easier legal gender recognition procedures would allow them to live more comfortable as a transgender person, according to the EU Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA, LGBT Survey 2014)[1]. Currently Polish trans people have to sue their parents to have their documents changed. A lamentable practice that will become a thing of the past if the new Act becomes law.

“The Senators confirmed today that trans rights are human rights.” Comments Arja Voipio, TGEU co-chair:

“Congratulations to the Polish trans community who together with MP Anna Grodzka did a fantastic job in educating the public in at times challenging debates.”

“This law is an important step recognizing the existence of trans people and their human rights in Poland.” comments Alecs Recher, TGEU co-chair:

“The Polish government should now ensure the swift implementation of the law and immediately start conversations with trans rights civil society to ensure that rights of young trans people, foreigners, those who are married and gender-variant people are included in a next step. We expect Andrzej Duda as former member of the European Parliament and as President elected to quickly sign the Act into law.”

You can read it on TGEU’s website here

Launch of a UK wide non-binary survey

The Scottish Transgender Alliance is today launching a UK wide survey for all non-binary people, defined as those:

“identifying as either having a gender which is in-between or beyond the two categories ‘man’ and ‘woman’, as fluctuating between ‘man’ and ‘woman’, or as having no gender, either permanently or some of the time”.

It asks questions on three main subjects: experiences of using services, views on legal gender recognition, and experiences in employment.

The survey will be used to give us a clearer picture of some of the issues being faced by non-binary people in the UK today, and to provide us with real evidence to use in our campaigning and lobbying around improving the rights of all trans people. At the moment, there is little existing literature on some of the specific issues faced by non-binary people beyond what we hear anecdotally from the community – and this is a great opportunity to change that.

If you would like to take the survey, you can do so at this link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/nonbinarysurvey

The survey should take around 30 minutes to complete. It will be open for 8 weeks, closing on Tuesday 15th September.

If you have any questions about the survey or would like to request it in a different format, please do get in touch with Vic Valentine by emailing vic@equality-network.org or calling the office on 0131 467 6039

EU Commission says that all trans people should be protected from discrimination

On May 5th, the EU Commission published a report on the implementation of the Gender Goods & Services Directive stating that anti-discrimination law should apply to all trans people.

The EU doesn’t specifically mention trans people in any of its equality legislation, but they had previously ruled in 1996 that the EU gender equality principle should be extend to cover people discriminated against because of gender reassignment.

In publishing this new report, they have now gone further and stated that these protections should be extended to people facing discrimination because of gender reassignment or gender identity.

Some of the people over at TGEU (Transgender Europe) had this to say about the publishing of the report:

“While this interpretation is not legally binding for member states, Transgender Europe welcomes this clear statement by the European Commission that it will interpret EU sex discrimination law to include gender identity. This has been long over due.“ comments Richard Köhler, TGEU Senior Policy Officer:

“This ends speculations on who is protected by EU law. Before, this was only definite for those who have been taking or planning to take medical or legal steps, leaving a big part of the trans community out.”

“However, TGEU regrets that the European Commission accepts the legal situation in member states as sufficient. TGEU recommends introducing gender identity as a protected ground in EU and national gender equality law similar to pregnancy or maternity. This would set aside any doubts and support a consistent application of the equality principle for all trans people.” comments Arja Voipio, TGEU co-chair.

Download the EU Commission’s Report

Ask your MSPs to support gender X passports for people who do not identify as men or women

We’re delighted that Alison Johnstone MSP has submitted the following motion in the Scottish Parliament supporting non-gendered passports for non-binary people:

Motion S4M-12970: Alison Johnstone, Lothian, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 21/04/2015
Passports for People who do not Associate with a Particular Gender
That the Parliament recognises that the UK Parliament’s early day motion number 47 relating to the provision of passports to people who do not associate with a particular gender, accumulated 80 signatures; understands the importance to transgender people who are non-binary, and therefore do not identify as male or female, of having passports that reflect their true identity; notes that non-binary people have called on the Labour and Conservative parties to comment on this issue in their manifestos; recognises that a number of other jurisdictions, including Australia and New Zealand, provide their citizens with passports bearing a gender marker other than M or F; believes that, like other trans people, non-binary people have the right to have their gender identity recognised and should therefore be able to obtain passports that reflect the fact that they do not identify as male or female, and urges the next UK Government to consider whether an additional gender marker should be made available on British passports.

Several MSPs have already signed as supporting the motion. It’s really important to raise visibility of non-binary issues so please send a quick email to your local MSPs asking them to sign in support (you can find their contact details at http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/msps.aspx).

NHS Consultation Event

Live in NHS Grampian or NHS Highland? Come and share your views on improving NHS provision for trans people. Discuss the information resources and expanded protocol details currently being worked on by the National Gender Identity Clinical Network for Scotland. Travel expenses provided. More info.

Logos of NGICNS & STA

WPATH Issues Statement on Legal Gender Recognition

On 19 January, 2015 the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) issued a statement asserting its position regarding legal gender recognition.

Significantly, WPATH stated:

  • “No particular medical, surgical, or mental health treatment or diagnosis is an adequate marker for anyone’s gender identity, so these should not be requirements for legal gender change.”
  • “WPATH Standard of Care 7 recognizes that there is a spectrum of gender identities, and that choices of identity limited to Male or Female may be inadequate to reflect all gender identities; an option of X or Other (as examples) may be advisable.”
  • “Marital status and parental status should not affect legal recognition of gender change. . .”
  • “. . . appropriate legal gender recognition should be available to transgender youth.”
  • ” . . . urges governments to eliminate unnecessary barriers, and to institute simple and accessible administrative procedures for transgender people to obtain legal recognition of gender, consonant with each individual’s identity. . . “

The Scottish Transgender Alliance welcomes that WPATH, long regarded as the world’s foremost authority on the medical treatment of transgender people, has clearly stated that legal recognition should be completely separate from the medical processes and not contingent on any diagnosis.  We are also pleased that they support access to legal gender recognition for transgender young people, and for the inclusion of a non-binary option.

These statements clearly align with the calls of our Equal Recognition campaign.  It is good to see that our campaign is consistent not only with international trans human rights activism, but also with the views of leading medical gender specialists.

The full text of the WPATH statement can be read here. WPATH Statement on Legal Recognition of Gender Identity 1-19-15