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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.

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

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.

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

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

Denmark Leads Europe on Gender Recognition

The Danish Parliament has passed the most progressive gender recognition legislation in Danish FlagEurope. The new law will enable people to have the gender they identify as legally recognised without any requirement for them to have a diagnosis or have undergone medical treatment.

Unfortunately applicants will have to be at least 18 years old to access gender recognition but the only other requirement is a six month waiting period between making an application and receiving gender recognition.

It is very encouraging to see European gender recognition legislation which much more closely matches Transgender Europe’s best practice check-list. Malta currently has a similar law progressing through Parliament.

Argentina continues to have the world’s most progressive gender recognition law, it doesn’t have a waiting period and enables people under 16 to have their gender recognised with additional requirements.

 

California Governor Jerry Brown Signs Landmark Transgender Student Rights Bill

Although existing state law already banned discrimination based on gender identity, this new law breaks new ground in specifically ensuring that all children in California schools will be allowed to participate in the full school experience including sports, programs and activities that match their gender identity.

http://www.lgbtqnation.com/2013/08/calif-governor-jerry-brown-signs-landmark-transgender-student-rights-bill/

Glasgow’s Lord Provost Raises Gay Rights With Russia

Great news that the pressure on Russia is continuing to grow. Lets use our strong ties with the Russian people to bring an end to human rights abuses in that country.

http://www.glasgow.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=10499

 

Visible Bodies: Transgender Narratives Retold

From San Diego, California USA.  Some great photos and self-descriptions of gender identity are showcased here.

http://www.advocate.com/politics/transgender/2013/08/05/visible-bodies-transgender-narratives-retold#.UgC8Ugdb9_U.facebook

 

TGEU calls for immediate end to police arrests of trans women in Greek city of Thessaloniki:

http://www.tgeu.org/TGEU_Statement_on_Transgender_Arrests_to_improve_image_of_Thessaloniki