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LGBTI equality charity welcomes SNP commitments on equality

Scotland’s LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex) equality groups the Equality Network and Scottish Transgender Alliance are welcoming the commitments made today by the SNP on LGBTI equality.

Nicola Sturgeon has today made five pledges, three of which relate to the welfare of young LGBTI people. The other two are to reform gender recognition law and to train all police on the investigation of hate crime.

Tim Hopkins, Director of the Equality Network, said, “We welcome these commitments from the SNP, which address some key concerns of LGBTI people, and we hope that the other parties will make strong pledges on LGBTI equality.”

The commitment to reform gender recognition law is the key aim of the Equality Network and Scottish Transgender Alliance’s Equal Recognition Campaign.

James Morton, manager of the Scottish Transgender Alliance, said, “We are very pleased to see the SNP pledge to reform gender recognition law for all trans people, in line with international best practice. That would mean enabling people to change the gender on their birth certificate without intrusive medical diagnosis, recognising trans people as the experts on their own identities. It would allow young people to legally change their gender, with parents’ support if under 16. It would also mean the law recognising that some people have a non-binary gender, that is, they are neither men nor women. We hope that the other parties will match this commitment and we look forward to working on this with whoever forms the next Scottish Government.”

Nathan Gale, of Non-Binary Scotland, said “By making a commitment to reform gender recognition law the Scottish Government is ensuring that all trans people, no-matter what their gender identity, will be able to be themselves, in all aspects of their lives. Trans people who don’t identify as men or women have just as much right to have the gender they identify as recognised and respected as everyone else. I hope that the next Scottish Government will truly aspire to international best practice and provide for a third gender, alongside male and female, to be recognised in Scottish law.”

The Equality Network and Scottish Transgender Alliance manifesto for the 2016 election is here:

http://www.equality-network.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/LGBTI-Equality-Manifesto-2016.pdf

A briefing for the Equal Recognition campaign to reform gender recognition law is here:

http://www.scottishtrans.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Equal-Recognition-Briefing.pdf

For media enquiries, please contact:

 Equality Network: Tim Hopkins, Director, on 07747 108 967 or tim@equality-network.org or James Morton, Manager, Scottish Transgender Alliance on 07554 992 626 or james@equality-network.org or Non-Binary Scotland on nonbinaryscotland@gmail.com  

Notes for editors

  •  The Equality Network is a national lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex equality charity for Scotland, campaigning for equality and human rights for all LGBTI people in Scotland. We create ways for people to contribute to making Scotland a place where everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or sex characteristics, can live free from prejudice and discrimination. By giving a voice to diverse LGBTI people across the country, using research evidence and expertise, and working in partnership with others, we achieve change in the laws, institutions and society of www.equality-network.org
  • Scottish Transgender Alliance is Scotland’s national transgender equality and human rights project, based within the Equality Network. Scottish Transgender Alliance was formed by transgender people in 2006 and carries out campaigning and community empowerment work, along with public sector policy and good practice development, research and training to advance transgender equality in www.scottishtrans.org
  • Non-Binary Scotland is a community group which provides social opportunities for non-binary people and campaigns for non-binary equality and human rights. They support the Equal Recognition Campaign. Contact: nonbinaryscotland@gmail.com.

Scottish Parliament Equal Opportunities Committee publishes summary about Trans Equality

The Scottish Parliament’s Equal Opportunities Committee have published a short report about trans equality. The report summarises the evidence given by the Scottish Transgender Alliance to the Committee on February 4th, as well as looking at some other things, such as:

  • Whether the Gender Recognition Act is reserved or devolved
  • The history and development of the Gender Recognition Act in the UK
  • Our Equal Recognition campaign – the three calls, and the evidence that we gave to support the calls
  • Some of the recommendations from the UK Parliament’s Women and Equalities Select Committee report into trans equality
  • The Equality Act
  • Other countries that currently have gender recognition legislation that partially or totally reflect the calls of the Equal Recognition campaign

The European Agency for Fundamental Rights releases a new report about the challenges to achieving equality for LGBT people

Yesterday, the European Agency for Fundamental Rights released a new report entitled: “Professionally fra-2016-lgbt-public-officials_en-page-001Speaking: Challenges to achieving equality for LGBT people in Europe”

The report spoke to staff from a number of professions who are responsible for working directly with LGBT people in areas where we might expect to see particularly good practice in improving LGBT equality – such as doctors, nurses, teachers and law enforcement officials, from a range of EU member states.

Trans Healthcare

The section of the report that talks the most about trans rights is the section on healthcare. The report highlights Scotland’s Gender Reassignment Protocol as an example of best practice for trans healthcare policy.

However, it highlights the ongoing problems for trans people when it comes to accessing healthcare – particularly in comparison to cisgender lesbian and gay people, and also in relation to a lack of understanding about the diversity of trans identities (especially non-binary identities):

“Overall, the findings indicate that trans people are more discriminated against than lesbian and gay people in the majority of EU Member States. There is less social awareness of trans identities than of lesbian and gay identities”

“However, it appears that across the EU Member States the majority of professionals do not take into account the ways that some trans people identify as other than male or female.”

There is also a trans healthcare nurse quoted from the UK talking about the issues faced by some trans people due to a lack of knowledge amongst GPs around trans identities:

“The most common one is when the local GP [general practitioner] has refused to prescribe. That is common. When someone has come as far as the Gender Clinic, has seen us and we have said this is fine, transition is going well, they are stable. Let’s get them onto some oestrogen and antiandrogen and the GP writes back saying they won’t do it.” (Trans-healthcare nurse, United Kingdom)”

This report clearly shows that whilst the situation for trans people in healthcare in Scotland is definitely better than in many EU member states, we must keep working to ensure that there is fair and equal access to healthcare, both trans-specific and general, for our communities.

The STA welcomes the publication of the Women and Equalities Committee’s Transgender Equality Inquiry Report

The UK Parliament’s Women and Equalities Committee has published its report of its Inquiry into Transgender Equality. The report recommendations are wide-ranging and we are delighted at the strength with which the report calls for many key improvements.

In particular, we are delighted the report states categorically that the Gender Recognition Act must be reformed to a self-declaration administrative process. Such reform would enable trans people to change their birth certificates without the current red-tape nightmare of submitting intrusive medical and psychiatric reports and years of personal documents to a judicial tribunal panel. We are proud that our Equal Recognition campaign work and the evidence we submitted to the inquiry (both in writing and in person) have been central in helping to secure this recommendation. We call on the Scottish Parliament to lead the way in legislating on the devolved matter of gender recognition.

We are also very pleased the report recommends reforming the Equality Act protected characteristic from the narrow term of ‘gender reassignment’ to the more inclusive term ‘gender identity’. It is vital that all transgender people receive full protection from discrimination in employment and service provision. The Equality Act is reserved legislation so this change needs to be achieved at Westminster.

The report also recommends that once a trans person has changed the gender on their birth certificate, then single sex service providers and employers should not be allowed to exclude them or discriminate. This would bring the letter of the law closer to the good practice standard developed through partnership between ourselves, Scottish Women’s Aid, Rape Crisis Scotland and the Scottish LGBT Domestic Abuse project.

The report is the first time any Westminster Committee has acknowledged the importance of addressing the needs of non-binary trans people (who do not identify simply as men or as women). The recommendation that people must be allowed the option to record their gender as ‘X’ rather than ‘M’ or ‘F’ on their passport is a positive first step forward. We look forward to continuing to engage in detail with both the Scottish and UK Parliaments to increase their understanding of the need to fully legally recognise the identities of non-binary trans people

While the areas of healthcare and hate crime are fully devolved and therefore the Committee could only look at the English systems, we will none-the-less be utilising the Committee’s recommendations to aid our ongoing work improving trans healthcare and hate crime services in Scotland.

We sincerely and warmly thank the members of the UK Parliament’s Women and Equalities Committee for all their hard work on understanding so many of the diverse problems faced by trans people and carefully developing achievable recommendations to begin addressing them. We also very greatly appreciate the dozens of trans individuals living in Scotland who helped shape the details of the STA evidence we submitted and the many trans, LGBT, trade union and women’s equality organisations who coordinated with us during evidence submission.

You can read the report at: http://www.parliament.uk/…/transgender-inquiry-report-publ…/

– See more at: http://www.scottishtrans.org/the-sta-welcomes-the-publication-of-the-women-and-equalities-committees-transgender-equality-inquiry-report/#sthash.QqstYqIB.dpuf

The STA give evidence at the Women and Equalities Committee Inquiry into Trans Equality

TransInquiry

On Tuesday 13th October at 10.30AM, STA manager James Morton gave oral evidence to the Women and Equalities Committee’s inquiry into trans equality. The session covered = a wide range of issues to do with how trans people’s equality is affected by the law, and also trans equality within employment.

You can watch a video of the evidence given on parliament tv

There was a particular focus on:

You can read a summary of the written evidence we submitted to the Women and Equalities Committee inquiry into trans equality, to give you a background to some of the things James was talking about, as well as our views on other issues of trans equality not covered in this evidence session.

The next session of the inquiry will be on Wednesday, October 28th, when the Committee will be asking Ministers about the evidence they have heard. That will be the final session, and afterwards they will begin writing a report about their findings.

 

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
President
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