News and articles which are not of a press release status
The transgender rights deficit
The transgender rights deficit
Across Europe transgender rights lag behind those of other groups. We're working to change that
Thomas Hammarberg Saturday 5 September 2009 09.00 BST
The human rights situation of transgender persons has long been ignored and neglected, although the problems they face are serious and often specific to this group alone. Transgender people experience a high degree of discrimination, intolerance and outright violence. Their basic human rights are often violated, including the right to life, the right to physical integrity and the right to health.
During my official visits to the 47 member States of the Council of Europe, I have been struck by the lack of knowledge about the human rights issues at stake for transgender persons, even among political decision-makers.
In a number of countries, the problem starts at the level of official recognition. Transgender people who no longer identify with their birth gender – as highlighted in last night's Channel 4 documentary, The Boy Who Was Born a Girl – and who seek changes to their birth certificates, passports and other documents, often encounter difficulties. This in turn leads to a number of very concrete problems in daily life when showing one's ID – in the bank or the post office, when using a credit card, or crossing borders.
Regrettably, in a large part of Europe official records can be changed only upon proof that the transgender person has been sterilised or declared infertile, or has undergone other medical procedures, such as gender reassignment surgery or hormone treatment. The individual's sincere affirmation of their gender identity is not seen as sufficient, and the suitability of the medical procedures for the person in question is not considered.
Additionally, many countries require that a married person divorces before his or her new gender can be recognised, even though the couple itself does not want to divorce. This may have an impact on children of the marriage, as, in several countries, the parent who has undergone the gender change will lose custody rights.
Even access to ordinary healthcare is a problem for transgender people. The lack of trained staff familiar with the specific healthcare needs of transgender people – or simply prejudice towards transgender them – render them vulnerable to unpredictable and sometimes hostile reactions.
Pension rights are also threatened. In the United Kingdom, male to female transgender people have been struggling to get their gender status accepted for the purpose of pension benefits. In spite of overwhelming legal arguments they have so far been denied the pension rights that other women in the country (who were born female) enjoy without question.
These are only few of the obstacles transgender people face in day-to-day life. Other serious problems are harassment and discrimination at work, stigmatisation, a high rate of unemployment and difficulties accessing the job market.
On the positive side, some of the problems have been acknowledged and "good practice" is increasing. For instance, some constitutional courts acknowledged that national laws violate the human rights of transgender people. In the United Kingdom the Gender Recognition Bill can, to a large extent, and excepting the divorce requirement, be considered an example of good practice. It was drafted with the participation of transgender people and avoided violations of rights like forced sterilisation, medical treatment conditions, or excessive bureaucracy.
In the field of employment, some trade unions, such as the Dutch ABVAKABO and the UK trade union Unison, have developed guidelines for employers on protecting transgender people at work. Moreover, the UK Public Sector Gender Equality Duty requires that all public authorities in the UK eliminate unlawful discrimination and harassment on the grounds of sex and that they promote equality of opportunity between women and men "including transsexuals of both genders".
In the UK, Germany and the Netherlands there are support groups for children, teenagers and their parents who have questions around gender identity. Their work is crucial. However, there are not enough of these services available and the public funding for those that do exist is scarce: most are under constant threat of closure.
A few local school and university boards across Europe have acknowledged the need to address the high instances of bullying and exclusion experienced by transgender youth. For example, the UK Government Department for Children, Schools and Families is working with the major transgender support groups in the UK to produce guidance for schools on transphobic bullying.
All these good examples show that mindsets are changing. But more is still needed. European countries should speed up efforts to stamp out transphobia and ensure that transgender persons are no longer discriminated against in any field. For this, they should share examples of best practice and engage in educational campaigns promoting respect and mutual understanding. The information deficit on the specific problems of transgender people and the bullying and ridiculing they are subject to also need to be addressed.
Thomas Hammarberg is the Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2009
"Forced divorce and sterilisation – a reality for many transgender persons" a Human Rights Comment by Thomas Hammarberg
photo: Daphne Channah Horn
"Forced divorce and sterilisation – a reality for many transgender persons"
says Thomas Hammarberg
The Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, Thomas Hammarberg, published today a Human Rights comment on the final settling of the Dr. Lydia Foy Case in Ireland. The Irish Government has withdrawn its appeal against the Supreme Court's decision and will recognise Dr Foy's gender identity as a woman.
Thomas Hammarberg welcomes in his comment this step by the Irish Government, but highlights also issues of concern for many transgender people such as the need to be diagnosed with an mental disorder or being forced to being sterilized and divorced for official gender recognition.
Read his comment here: http://commissioner.cws.coe.int/tiki-view_blog_post.php?postId=74
24 countries in Europe still require sterilization from trans people
TGEU Media Release
24 countries in Europe still require sterilization from trans people
For the first time TGEU publishes a Trans Rights Europe Map & Index. The map shows that 24 countries in Europe require sterilization in legal gender recognition while a total of 16 countries do not provide for any possibility to change name and gender at all.
This means that transgender people remain barred from active participation in social and economic life. Applying for a job, opening a bank account, boarding a plane can be challenging or even be impossible.
“I experience so much discrimination, harassment and violence that it has become my daily life.” reported one of the 6771 trans identified respondents of the EU LGBT survey. The study was published by the EU Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) today and presented on the occasion of the first IDAHOT forum happening in The Hague. It is the largest study ever conducted in Europe on the experience of discrimination and violence of LGBT people in the European Union and Croatia. The FRA survey reveals that transgender persons are particular subject to high levels of repeated victimisation and violence and they are two times more likely to be discriminated when looking for a job than the lesbian, gay and bisexual population.
To respect and safeguard the fundamental rights of transgender persons, the FRA recommends: EU action in the area of gender equality should explicitly cover issues linked to discrimination on the grounds of gender identity.
“The FRA study confirms that the experience of violence and discrimination of transgender people is systematic and widespread”, says Alecs Recher, member of the Executive Board of TGEU: “We expect the European Union to finally commit to a comprehensive approach towards the rights of LGBTI people which presents clear objectives and measures on how to realize human rights for all trans people”
“The Trans Rights Europe Index presents a detailed overview over the legal human rights situation for trans people in each European country. It shall guide policy makers to take action to ensure human rights and equality for all trans people”, says Richard Köhler, TGEU Policy Officer
More information is available for download on the following links:
TGEU is a European Human Rights Organization with membership in 36 countries working for equality and inclusion of all trans people, registered under Austrian law.
A landmark treaty
The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe has adopted a historic convention on combating violence against women.
“This new landmark treaty of the Council of Europe opens the path for creating a legal framework at pan-European level to protect women against all forms of violence, and prevent, prosecute and eliminate violence against women and domestic violence., The Convention also establishes a specific monitoring mechanism in order to ensure effective implementation ofits provisions by the Parties.” says the CoE press release.
The document by itself is already historic and the broad range of women that is explicitly covered shows the willingness and also hard struggles of those around the tables. The convention states in Art. 3:
3. The implementation of the provisions of this Convention by the Parties, in particular measures to protect the rights ofvictims, shall be secured without discrimination on any ground such as sex, gender, race, colour, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, association with a national minority, property, birth, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, state of health, disability, marital status, migrant or refugee status, or other status.
“Certain groups of individuals may also experience discrimination on the basis of their gender identity, which in simple terms means that the gender they identify with is not in conformity with the sex assigned to them at birth. This includes categoriesof individuals such as transgender or transsexual persons, cross-dressers, transvestites and other groups of persons that do not correspond to what society has established as belonging to “male” or “female” categories.”
An alliance of civil society NGOs has been ongoing made effort ensure that discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity is prominently addressed. Amongst those, we would like to thank especially ILGA-Europe for having consulted with TGEU early on and given us the opportunity throughout the process to contribute to this important document.
The Convention will come into force when at least 10 states have signed the convention.
Watch for your governments whether it will take the pen on May 11 in Istanbul or whether some special reminder and pressure from their concerned constituency is needed.
Act Now! TGEU writes to Irish Minister to quickly introduce Gender Recognition Legislation
TGEU letter to Irish Minister: Act Now!
30 April 2013
TGEU sent a letter today to Irish Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton TD, asking her to speed up the process introducing legal gender recognition in Ireland.
Read the letter here.
The campaign Act Now by the Transgender Equality Network Ireland - TENI calls for doemstic and international support. Read more about the campaign and how you can support gender recognition in Ireland here.
Another Victory for Trans Rights at the UN
Gender Reassignment Surgery Requirement equals Torture, says United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture
Slowly, it seems things are speeding up for trans people at the United Nations. The most recent victory is that the yearly report of the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment to the General Assembly (SRT) now unequivocally posits that requiring trans people to change their body, to have to undergo genital surgery in order to get their gender recognized, equals torture.
This year's report of the SRT focuses on torture in health care. It happens that women who are seen “unfit” for child bearing are involuntary sterilized or refused genetic testing. And the Special Rapporteur now explicitly picks up on existing judgments on interventions in people's sexual and reproductive rights and health. Several practices and policies are more than a violation of the right to health. They can be considered torture. Where the Committee of the UN Women's Treaty (CEDAW) already in no uncertain wording condemned sterilization of Roma women, the Special Rapporteur on Torture's report now very clearly states: “In many countries transgender persons are required to undergo often unwanted sterilization surgeries as a prerequisite to enjoy legal recognition of their preferred gender.” (para. 78)
Two factors weigh in heavily in getting this into the report. On the one hand there is a 16 page contribution to Rapporteur Mendez by Advocates for Informed Choice (www.aiclegal.org) which is an US based organisation for the rights of intersex people. The other one is a submission by trans* activist Micah Grzywnowicz who a.o. has worked for the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights. Zie submitted a report with testimonies from all over the world arguing that the surgery requirement comes forth from a binary gender perspective that aims at keeping intact the fiction of heterosexuality. The idea that all trans people are heterosexual after transitioning. The mandate writes “because they fail to conform to socially constructed gender expectations.” For a UN body this is strong language. In the conclusions, the Special Rapporteur calls (para 88) on states to “repeal any law allowing intrusive and irreversible treatments, including forced genital-normalizing surgery, involuntary sterilization, unethical experimentation, medical display, “reparative therapies” or “conversion therapies”, when enforced or administered without the free and informed consent of the person concerned.”
Bucharest Seminar, 24-25 June 2011
Workshop on Transgender Rights in Central and Eastern Europe/former Soviet Union (CEE/fSU)
Interights in conjunction with ACCEPT organized a Workshop on Transgender Rights in Central and Eastern Europe/former Soviet Union (CEE/fSU). About 20 participants, involved with trans rights legislation in the region, explored specific challenges faced when accessing transgender related health care or legal gender recognition.
Recurring issues were absent or defunct gender recognition legislation; lack of knowledge by public officials. Medical specialists play a crucial role but expertise, facilities and treatment are rare. Given deficiency in funding and trans-friendly structures, support through having a trans community is crucial for trans people in the region.
Kris Randelovic, TGEU Eastern Europe Working Group, and Richard Köhler, co-chair took part on behalf of TGEU.
Call for Applications Workshop Queer Empowerment by Art
Call for Applications
Workshop Queer Empowerment by Art
3 - 8 June 2013 (Berlin)
Inviation to a free workshop "Queer Empowerment by Art" held by TransInterQueer (Berlin)
June 3 to 8, 2013.
Please find further information and the online application form here:
Please spread the word.
Travel costs, accomodation and fee will be covered by a Grundtvig grant. Up to 13 participants (living in one of the EU member states except Germany), plus Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Croatia and Turkey) will be part of an international group with a variety of identities and abilities.
Practical experiences with art aren't necessarily required.
The workshop tries to create a safer space where experiences around sexual and gender identity and individual life scripts are dealt with by art and in mutual respect.
Designated EU Health Commissioner vows support to trans depathologization
Designated EU Health Commissioner commits to trans depathologization
Designated Commissioner for Health and Consumer Rights, Tonio Borg, promised on November 17th in a letter to European Parliamentarians to work to stop that transgender people are considered mentally ill.
In his letter Tonio Borg pledged: "I would also, in line with the European Parliament's resolution of September 2011, fight to stop considering transgender people as mentally ill and support a non-pathologising reclassification for gender identity in the negotiations on the 11th version of the World Health Organizations International Classification of Diseases."
His candidacy sparked controversy amongst European civil society and Parliamentarians on his track record on women's and lgbt rights. Read the Press Release of a NGO coalition on his nomination here as well as the reaction of the LGBT Intergroup at the European Parliament on the acceptance of his candidacy.
Read Tonio Borg's letter here.
EU Agency publishes 2010-Report on Legal situation on Trans
EU Agency report confirms for Trans people in the EU: A life in dignity and free from discrimination? Not there yet!
The Fundamental Rights Agency publishes today its updated study on the legal situation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans people in the European Union: Homophobia, transphobia and discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. The report, as a novelty highlights in the title explicitly Transphobia and gender identity, paints a gloomy picture for trans people.
All EU countries require for legal gender recognition a ‘medical opinion’ aka mental diagnosis, 17 member states demand sterilization. In 15 countries transgender people are not (clearly) protected from discrimination (in breach of EU law). This and the invisibility of trans issues in public awareness campaigns of public and national equality bodies is appalling: 79% of trans people in the EU experience some form of harassment in public ranging from transphobic comments to physical or sexual abuse.
Legal Gender Recognition
The presented overview of the requirements for legal gender recognition gives a glimpse of the great personal cost people have to take upon themselves to have their documents changed in the EU: It revieles once more that what should be a simply administrative process is a medical and legal limbo as all EU countries require a so called ‘medical opinion’. The requirement to be diagnosed with a mental condition is a humiliating and degrading process for many. Human Rights defenders worldwide demand a stop to a pathologization of an entire social group as this state-sanctioned stigmatization fuels into discrimination and hatred faced by trans people on a daily basis. As the Human Rights Commissioner states: From a human rights and health care perspective no mental disorder needs to be diagnosed in order to give access to treatment for a condition in need of medical care. Furthermore, 17 EU-countries demand genital surgery leading to sterilization, 9 countries require a divorce, in 9 countries a ‘real-life-test’ is mandatory – demanding from a person already having lived for a time-period in the preferred gender, often without any supporting documents inviting in discrimination and harassment.
EU law and 17 EU countries view transsexuals to be covered under anti-discrimination legislation. The FRA had already in its 2008 report pointed out that there is there is no reason not to extend the protection from discrimination beyond transsexuals, to cover ‘cross dressers, and transvestites, people who live permanently in the gender ‘opposite’ to that on their birth certificate without any medical intervention and all those people who simply wish to present their gender differently’.
Clearly more needs to be done in this direction, to enable all trans people to know and claim their rights. This starts with the pro-active inclusion of transgender issues in the mandate of national equality bodies and reaching out to strengthen local trans communities. The report shows once more that a long road is ahead to achieve true equality for trans people. But, without comparative data it will be even more difficult to find holistic solutions improving the living situation of trans people sustainably.
 The comparative report updates and complements the FRA study Homophobia and Discrimination on Grounds of Sexual Orientation in the EU Member States Part I – Legal Analysis of June 2008. The update follows a request by the European Parliament to look into the fundamental rights situation of LGBT persons in the EU.
European LGBT survey launched
FRA European LGBT survey launched!
Besides occasional news reports about the discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) people, there is very little comparable data collected across the EU about the everyday experiences of LGBT people with respect of discrimination. In response to this situation, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) has launched the first ever online EU-wide survey to establish an accurate picture of the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people (18 years or older) that will try to capture their experiences.
As the first EU-wide survey of its kind, the results will support the development of equal treatment policies for LGBT people in the European Union and should set the agenda for years to come. Based on the survey results, national and European policy makers, as well as non-governmental organisations, will be able to better target their advocacy strategies and activities to support LGBT communities to live and express themselves freely in a non-discriminatory environment.
The survey is completely anonymous (no data on the participants and their sessions are logged in any way). The survey is operated by Gallup, a professional survey and consultancy firm.
In order to give weight to the results, the European LGBT Survey counts on the participation of a large and diverse group of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people from each country. Hence, it is vitally important for the success of the survey that it reaches a wide audience through participants emailing the survey, sharing it through social media or simply inviting LGBT friends to take part.
To learn more or to take the survey, follow this link: lgbtsurvey.eu
The survey asks a range of questions about LGBT people’s experiences including:
Public perceptions and responses to homophobia and/or transphobia
Violence and harassment
The social context of being an LGBT person
When filling in, please note:
The questionnaire can be filled in by current residents of the EU-27 and Croatia
All respondents need to be 18 years old or older
If you are trans (or have a trans past) and want the survey to capture that, there is no way of doing so other than by ticking the ‘transgender’ box when it appears. After that you will get further choices such as ‘transsexual’, ‘man with a transsexual past’, ‘woman with a transsexual past’, ‘transgender’, ‘transvestite’ etc.
Importantly, if you identify as ‘queer’, ‘non-gender’, ‘agender’ etc. but not necessarily as ‘transgender’, you still have to tick the ‘transgender’ box as otherwise you will either be recorded only as ‘gay’, ‘lesbian’ or ‘bisexual’ or worse by told that you cannot fill in the survey as you are ‘not within the category of persons of this survey’.
European regional meeting on violence against Women
TGEU participated in a meeting on violence against women, its causes and consequences on June 17 in Brussels. The meeting was organised on the occasion of the vist of Ms. Rashida Manjoo, UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women.
Rashida Manjoo wanted to gather information on challenges and opportunities in Europe. According to Ms. Manjoo, Europe still has a lot to do when it comes to combating violence against women. She highlighted that any form of violence against women is a human rights violation. Transgender people, as well as, lesbian and bisexual women are also affected by violence against women and in her reports and actions she regularly addresses the issues that lesbians, bisexual women and transgender people are facing. She made explicit that women’s rights are human rights: at all levels, they are non-negotiable. However, she identified the need to use human rights language and make it non-negotiable with governments.
In a tour de table, NGOs active in the field presented the challenges and opportunities they had identified in their work combating violence against women.
TGEU presented the research findings from the Trans Murder Monitoring project for Europe: transgender people are highly exposed to gender-based violence. In the last 3 ½ years, 37 reports of murdered trans people have been documented; the majority being trans women. Unenvied leaders in the European country comparison are Italy and Turkey. TGEU emphasised that transgender people often get ‘punished’ not for what they do, but for what they are. Women as well as transgender people suffer from the same root of aggression. In societies where rigid gender norms are enforced and prosecution is slack, perpetrators are encouraged to act out what they feel is societal consensus.
On a different note, the regional transgender network highlighted that in the majority of countries, trans people seeking legal gender recognition are subjected to forced sterilisation, medicalisation and genital surgery.
ILGA-Europe highlighted that the recent Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence includes a very important article, which is key in understanding who victimised women are in real life:
Article 4 on fundamental rights and non-discrimination - Paragraph3: The implementation of the provisions of this Convention by the Parties, in particular measures to protect the rights of victims, shall be secured without discrimination on any ground such as sex, gender, race, colour, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, association with a national minority, property, birth, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, state of health, disability, marital status, migrant or refugee status, or other status. NGOs work for the ratification and the concrete enforcement of the Convention, and hope that a particular attention is paid to this article in particular.
Experts develop alternative models for trans* health classifications
Alternative models for trans*health classifications
THE HAGUE, Netherlands – Invited by GATE - Global Action for Trans* Equality, a group of more than 20 experts from most parts of the world met at the Dutch Ministry for Education, Culture and Science on November 16-18 to discuss alternative models for trans* health classifications. Currently the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Classification of Diseases (ICD) defines people who have a trans* identity as having a 'Gender Identity Disorder' which is included in the chapter on Mental and Behavioral Disorders. The ICD is currently under general review – for the first time in over twenty years. This offers a unique opportunity for trans* people to see their healthcare needs adequately addressed without pathologizing their identities. Many trans* people around the world experience overwhelming barriers in attempting to access appropriate and gender identity affirming health care.
The experts, many of whom self-identify as trans*, reached agreement that the current classifications are not serving trans* communities around the globe adequately, and can have detrimental effects on trans* people’s health and the enjoyment of their human rights. Those classifications pathologize gender identity and gender expression, forcing trans* to clinically prove their sense of self. It also encourages gate-keeping by mental health professionals to the medical treatments that trans* people need.
As an alternative, the experts agreed that a central new, non-pathologizing category should be created and developed, which can guide health practitioners to relevant existing or new diagnostic codes throughout the ICD when access to health services is required by trans people. This change of focus posed important questions that still need further exploration and consensus making. First, whether or not a separate diagnostic code in the mental health chapter will still be necessary (for example, to cover those trans* people who want to explore their gender identity with the help of a mental health provider, as well as trans* people who have mental health issues that may or may not be connected to their gender expression or identity). Secondly, how this proposal would be applied to children and adolescents seeking gender affirming counseling or other treatment.
The group of experts will keep consulting with trans* communities and other trans* experts, before making further proposals to this end. Everyone is encouraged to get in contact and be part of this process.
For more information please contact:
Mauro Cabral, Co-director Global Action for Trans* Equality (English, Spanish): mcabral[at]transactivists.org
Justus Eisfeld, Co-director Global Action for Trans* Equality (English, German, Dutch): jeisfeld[at]transactivists.org
Finally: Forced sterilizations removed from Swedish legislation
Finally: Forced sterilizations removed from the Swedish legislation
Finally: Forced sterilizations removed from the Swedish legislation
Today, May 22nd, in the afternoon the Swedish Parliament voted to finally remove the mandatory legal requirement of sterilization for those who want to change their legal gender. The change enters into force on July 1 of this year.
- Although the legal requirement has not been applied since January 10 of this year, when the decision of the Court of Appeal in Stockholm took effect, today's decision is obviously extremely important. The Court found that the claim was contrary to the Constitution and the European Convention, which was also mentioned by several members in today’s debate, says Ulrika Westerlund, President of RFSL.
Today's vote marks the end of a very long work from the LGBTQ and trans movement to change an outdated law, which stems from a time when the approach to human rights was different. The Act came into force in 1972, when Sweden also forcibly sterilized other groups.
But much remains to be done before the law respects all trans people and allows everyone to live their lives according to their own will.
- Now that the forced sterilization requirement is removed, it is vital that we continue to work to improve the law, including by removing the age limit of 18 to change a person’s legal gender. In today’s parliamentary debate before the decision the age limit was discussed and the government parties argued that the matter is investigated within the Government Offices right now. We will of course follow up on this, says Emelie Mire Åsell, President of RFSL Ungdom, the Swedish Youth Federation for LGBTQ Rights.
Even though the forced sterilization requirement is removed, more changes are needed for many trans people to become biological parents. Embryo donation must be allowed so trans men can get the same opportunity as other men to donate gametes to their partner. The so-called presumption of paternity also needs to be gender-neutral. This is needed for several reasons, but among other things since no longer only legal men can contribute genetically to the children born within a marriage.
The legal gender change also needs to be fully applied. For example, a person who has legally changed gender must be able to have that reflected in their children’s data in the population registration and the confidentiality of data of the authorities must be protected. Major health care reforms are needed as well, in terms of access to care for all who need and want it, and in terms of the quality of care offered.
Tonight RFSL, RFSL Ungdom, KIM, FPES and DU, the Anti-Discrimination Office of Uppsala, celebrate the parliamentary decision, but we are also continuing our work together for redress for those who have already been sterilized. Before the summer we will submit our claims for forced sterilization to the Chancellor of Justice.
For more information:
RFSL’s President Ulrika Westerlund +46-703-450 183 or firstname.lastname@example.org
RFSL Ungdoms’s President Emelie Mire Åsell +46-707-664 664 or email@example.com
With gratitude to Maria Sjodin for the english translation
Harassment of Transgender Individuals Must End
letter to Turkish authorities
Mr. Sadullah Ergin
Ministry of Justice
Address: 06659 Kizilay, Ankara, Turkey
Fax: +90 312 419 33 70
November 2, 2011
On behalf of seven international human rights organizations
, we write to express our deepest concern at the recent conviction of three transgender human rights defenders from the organization Pembe Hayat LGBTT Dayanışma Derneği 
. On October 26, Naz Güdümen, Buse Kılıçkaya, and Selay Tunç were sentenced to prison terms ranging from five months to one and a half years. As we have noted in our previous communications with the Turkish authorities, we believe that their arrests and now their prosecutions were arbitrary, unjustifiable and provide evidence of the systematic discrimination of transgender people in Turkey, including by the police and courts.
We request that the government of Turkey drop all charges against these women, amend vague laws that permit abuse of police power, and commit to concrete steps to improve the safety and well-being of transgender individuals.
On October 26, 2011, Ankara’s 15th Criminal Court of First Instance rendered its verdict. In its final ruling, Ms. Tunc was sentenced to six months in prison for “resisting the police”. Ms. Güdümen was sentenced to one year in prison for “insulting the police” and an additional six months for “resisting the police”. Ms. Kılıçkaya was sentenced to five months in prison for “resisting the police”. While the jail sentences for Ms. Tunc and Ms. Güdümen were suspended as long as they do not repeat the same alleged offense, if the Court of Appeal upholds Ms. Kılıçkaya’s sentence, she will be imprisoned.
The convictions of Ms. Kılıçkaya, Ms. Tunç, and Ms. Güdümen began with their arrest on July 19, 2010. Police stopped a car on the women were driving down Seyranbaglari Mah street in Ankara and informed them that they were under arrest. The police officers forcefully dragged the women into a waiting police van. Ms. Kılıçkaya informed the police that they hurt her arms; a remark that we believe could have subsequently been misrepresented as insulting a police officer. The women were transported to the police station and held for approximately five hours before being released. On June 24th, the women were formally charged with Damaging Public Property
, Insulting Police
, and Resisting the Police and Preventing Them from Performing Their Duty
We believe that the initial arrests and brutality as well as the subsequent indictments and convictions may have been motivated by a combination of factors: transphobia; disregard for the law in the case of people who are, or may be perceived as, sex workers; and a specific desire to deter transgender human rights defenders from activism. Ms. Kılıçkaya and Ms. Tunç are co‐founders and current board members of Pembe Hayat, and Ms. Güdümen is an active member. We are particularly concerned with what appears to be the repeat targeting of Ms. Kılıçkaya and Ms. Tunç. As described in our communication to you on 18 October 2010, this was the second time in less than one month that Ms. Kılıçkaya and Ms. Tunç were arbitrarily arrested by the police.
Notably, the court in that instance dismissed the charges, citing the lack of evidence against the defendants.
During the case, the judge also reprimanded the police officers for their mistreatment of the human rights defenders, stating that their style of intervention was “totally wrong”.
Police mistreatment of transgender human rights defenders violates Turkey’s own laws, including Article 10 (which guarantees the equality of all citizens before the law without discrimination), Article 20 (which protects an individual’s privacy) and Article 23 (which guarantees freedom of movement) of the Turkish Constitution.
Furthermore, the discriminatory treatment of transgender people in Turkey contradicts international human rights law. At the European level, the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, Thomas Hammarberg, recommended that member states, “[E]nact hate crime legislation which affords specific protection for transgender persons against transphobic crimes and incidents.”
In its 2011 Progress Report
, the European Commission reiterated Turkey’s obligation to provide genuine protections to all minorities, including LGBT people.
The European Parliament previously affirmed this obligation on February 10, 2010, reminding the Turkish government that the protection of LGBT minorities is a non‐negotiable condition for entry into the European Union.
Moreover, Turkey, in agreeing to the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers Recommendation on combating discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity, accepted its obligations with regard to these principles:
“Member states should ensure effective, prompt and impartial investigations into alleged cases of crimes and other incidents, where the sexual orientation or gender identity of the victim is reasonably suspected to have constituted a motive for the perpetrator; they should further ensure that particular attention is paid to the investigation of such crimes and incidents when allegedly committed by law enforcement officials or by other persons acting in an official capacity, and that those responsible for such acts are effectively brought to justice and, where appropriate, punished in order to avoid impunity.”
The United Nations has been similarly clear and direct in its prohibitions on discrimination against transgender individuals, including with regard to Turkey specifically. In its July 2010 periodic review of Turkey, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) expressed concern over the “vulnerable situation of various disadvantaged groups of women,” including transgender women and asked the government “to take effective measures to eliminate discrimination” against this community.
In May 2010, Turkey accepted a recommendation during its Universal Periodic Review by the United Nations Human Rights Council to ensure non‐discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.
Most recently, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers recommended that States, “adopt criminal law provisions that do not directly or indirectly discriminate on the grounds of gender during criminal proceedings. Sentencing should include a gender perspective... The specific needs of women and transgender persons should be taken into account when sentences of detention are ordered.”
We request that:
- All criminal charges against Ms. Kılıçkaya, Ms. Tunç, and Ms. Güdümen relating to this case be dropped.
- An independent investigation be launched into the discriminatory treatment by the police and courts of transgender people under the pretext of implementing the law.
- Laws that are often used to target transgender individuals, such as the Law on Misdemeanors, be amended or revoked.
- The Police Duty and Authority Law and other laws governing the powers and duties of the police be amended to prevent police officers from harassing transgender individuals and human rights defenders and to hold them accountable when they do.
- The Turkish government should pass legislation to protect the rights of transgender people, including, inter alia, a non-discrimination law inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity and a law prohibiting hate crimes motivated by homophobia and transphobia.
- Comprehensive national training for law enforcement officials on the treatment of vulnerable minorities, including transgender people, be provided to prevent future cases of police harassment, brutality and mistreatment.
We would appreciate your response with regard to this case as well as the opportunity to enter into dialogue with the government of Turkey about implementing action to protect transgender individuals and human rights defenders from violence and discrimination.
Cary Allan Johnson
International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission
Koen van Dijk
GATE - Global Action for Trans* Equality
Amets Suess,Member of the Coordination Team,STP 2012,International Stop Trans Pathologization Campaign
President. Abdullah Gul, President of the Republic of Turkey,
Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Prime Minister of the Republic of Turkey
Mr. Sadullah Ergin, Minister of Justice
Mr. İdris Naim Şahin, The Minister of Interior
Mrs. Fatma Sahin, The Minister of Family and Social Policies
Mr. Ayhan Sefer Ustun, President of the Turkish Parliamentary Human Rights Investigative Commission
 The organizations that authored this letter include the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), COC Netherlands, GATE - Global Action for Trans* Equality, the European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA-Europe), Transgender Europe (TGEU), ARC International, and STP 2012, International Stop Trans Pathologization Campaign.
 Pembe Hayat (Pink Life Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Transsexual Solidarity Association) is an Ankara‐based organization that works to eliminate all forms of discrimination and violence motivated by homophobia and transphobia.
 See joint letter to Turkish Ministers of Justice and Interior regarding the arrests of three transgender activists; available online:
http://www.iglhrc.org/cgi-bin/iowa/article/takeaction/resourcecenter/1209.html. See also letter from IGLHRC, HRW,
ILGA‐Europe, COC Netherlands and Pemba Hayat to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on February 26, 2010; available
online at http://www.iglhrc.org/cgi-bin/iowa/article/pressroom/pressrelease/1095.html.
 Inquiry Number: 2010/75420, Docket Number: 2010/26414, Indictment Number: 2010/9063
 See Turkey: Drop Charges Against Transgender Rights Defenders available online at: http://www.iglhrc.org/cgi-bin/iowa/article/pressroom/pressrelease/1222.html
 See Case Dismissed Against Transgender Activists in Turkey available online at: http://www.iglhrc.org/cgi-bin/iowa/article/takeaction/resourcecenter/1234.html
Available at http://ec.europa.eu/enlargement/pdf/key_documents/2011/package/tr_rapport_2011_en.pdf
 Gay and Lesbian Rights Intergroup, "European Parliament reaffirms LGBT rights are a condition to join the European Union," February 18, 2010, available at http://www.lgbt-ep.eu/news.php .
 Recommendation CM/Rec (2010) 5 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on measures to combat discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity, (Adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 31 March 2010 at the 1081st meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies) available at: https://wcd.coe.int/ViewDoc.jsp?id=1606669
 See Concluding observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women in Turkey, CEDAW/C/TUR/CO/6, July 30, 2010, available at http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cedaw/docs/co/CEDAW-C-TUR-CO-6.pdf
 “Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review”. United Nations Human Rights Council. Fifteenth session, agenda item 6. 17 June 2010. Available at http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/15session/reports.htm .
 “Note by the Secretary-General transmitting the interim report of the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers.” Sixty-sixth session, Item 69 (b) of the provisional agenda. 10 August 2011. Available online at http://daccess-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N11/449/71/PDF/N1144971.pdf?OpenElement.
letter to Turkish Authorities (English)
letter to Turkish Authorities (Turkish)
Human Rights Commissioner Muižnieks urges Ireland to adopt Legal Gender Recognition
|Human Rights Commissioner Nils Muižnieks urges Ireland to adopt Legal Gender Recognition
“It is my position that legal recognition of the preferred gender should not require infertility or compulsory medical treatment which may seriously impair the autonomy, health or well-being of the individuals concerned. Any requirement of a medical diagnosis should be reviewed with a view to eliminating obstacles to the effective enjoyment by transgender persons of their human rights, including the right to self-determination. Moreover, divorce should not be a necessary condition for gender recognition as it can have a disproportionate effect on the right to family life.” says Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner Nils Muižnieks in a letter to Irish Minister for Social Protection Juan Burton.
In her response, Minister Burton calls the enactment of Gender Recognition a priority for the Government and herself, however fails to establish a concrete timeline for the introduction of the Heads of Bills. In September 2012 she had promised the Irish and international audience of the 4th
European Transgender Council in Dublin an introduction of the Heads of Bills in the coming weeks. In her response
to the Commissioner she reiterates ”complexities” around marital and civil partnership status as main reasons for the delay.
Lithuania: proposal to ban Gender Reassigment re-introduced
Lithuania: proposal re-introduced to ban Gender Reassigment
A Bill, Prohibiting Gender Reassignment, Proposed to the Agenda of the New Parliament
2012 11 29
The representative of the ‘Homeland Union’ Antanas Matulas, the Deputy Chairman of Committee on Health Affairs, has resubmitted a draft amendment to the Civil Code, prohibiting gender reassignment surgeries, five days after the beginning of the new parliamentary tenure. An identical draft amendment was submitted in 2011, but failed to be adopted. Therefore it could be presumed that the current motion seeks to test the new Parliament’s attitudes towards trans issues.
At present, the Civil Code provides that an unmarried adult is entitled to undergo gender reassignment surgery if it is possible medically, while the conditions and procedure of gender reassignment are set by legislation. No such legislation has been passed, however.
The initiators of the draft amendment propose that the aforementioned provisions be deleted and replaced by the provision that gender reassignment surgery is prohibited in Lithuania and that civil registry entries concerning gender reassignment surgeries performed abroad be amended by court decision only.
The explanatory note on the controversial proposal states that Lithuanian society ‘views gender reassignment as very controversially; society is not ready to accept gender reassignment practices due to certain psychosocial reasons, and therefore the permission to undergo gender reassignment surgeries will lead to a number of medical and ethical issues’.
Moreover, it ignorantly states that it is impossible to reassign gender surgically because it ‘is determined genetically from the very moment of conception’ and that gender reassignment procedure ‘is associated with the radical impairment of a person, because physically healthy persons who are able to conceive and raise children are castrated in this manner’. ‘Because, according to the International Classification of Diseases ICD-10, transsexuality (F64.0) belongs to the group of personality development and behavioural disorders of adults, help to transsexuals must be psychotherapeutic in nature and aimed at restoring the harmony of a person’s body and mind’, states the explanatory note.
The Legal Department with the Office of Seimas has provided its opinion that the draft amendment not only interferes with the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), but also contradict the legal principle of legitimate expectations.
Read TGEU's briefing paper on the original proposal here (Summer 2011)
Read the Reaction of Parliamentarians of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (Oct 2011)
May – June busy months: TGEU advocacy team meets European Union
After the TGEU Steering Committee meeting at the weekend of 7th-8th May in Brussels, the Advocacy Working Group of TGEU engaged in a series of meetings with representatives of the EU Commission.
The purpose of the meetings was to introduce TGEU as a legitimate voice of the trans* community in Europe. The two co-chairs raise awareness in the Commission about the experiences of trans* people in Europe, such as hate crime and violence, access to general and trans-related healthcare, difficulties accessing employment, as well as procedures and requirements regarding legal gender recognition. Steering Committee member, Cat McIlroy, illustrated the overall problem of the lack of legal gender recognition with the example of Ireland. Changing the gender marker in birth certificates is still not possible in Ireland, despite the explicit ruling of the Irish High Court.
TGEU also met with the Regional Office for Europe of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights – (OHCHR). The purpose was to raise awareness about experiences of trans people in Europe and to explore further working relations. OHCHR Regional Representative, Jan Jarab, and Human Rights Officer, Pablo Espiniella, showed great interest in TGEU’s global research project, Transrespect versus Transphobia Worldwide, and its findings from the Trans Murder Monitoring Project. The office works directly with the institutions of the Council of Europe and European Union but also engages with states on the national level. Pablo Espiniella highlighted the importance of a dialogue from civil society such as Transgender Europe and engagement from the trans human rights groups on the national level.
In the meeting with legal experts of the DG Justice, the discussion was more technical focusing on the current review of how EU Gender Equality legislation is implemented in member states and its’ effects for trans people. TGEU and ILGA-Europe highlighted that coverage of trans people in existing anti-discrimination laws is at best patchy. Few countries actually have provisions to protect trans people from discrimination. Even where they do exist, trans people as well as public authorities are unaware as texts do not explicitly refer to transgender people. Ample evidence of living experiences of transgender people made clear that an extensive implementation is indispensable. A joint input of TGEU and ILGA-Europe on how the principle of equal treatment of women and men of the Goods & Services Directive is implemented in regard to trans people can be found here.
On the occasion TGEU was participating in a meeting with EU Commissioner Reding, bringing to her attention the issues of discrimination transgender people are facing in the EU. Viviane Reding is the EU Fundamental Rights Commissioner as well as Vice-President of the European Commission. Read more about this meeting here. The Commissioner had affirmed, earlier in an answer to a Parliamentary Question, the importance of supporting the promotion of equality for transgender people. As a direct follow-up, TGEU co-chair, Richard Köhler, and Silvan Agius from ILGA-Europe met with Dana Trama-Zada, member of the Reding Cabinet on June 20th. Among other areas of work, Ms Trama-Zada is responsible for gender equality, anti-discrimination and minority rights in the Commissioner’s team. Again, European standards in implementing EU anti-discrimination legislation and possible future actions by the Commission were on the agenda. The European Commission has commissioned a report on ‘Discrimination against trans and intersex people on the grounds of sex, gender identity and gender expression’, to be published in Autumn 2011, where further steps will be explored.
TGEU gratefully acknowledges the support of ILGA-Europe for these advocacy events and the Steering Committee meeting.
Never again! PACE Report presented on forced sterilisation
Spring session: 22-26 April 2013
picture and text: courtesy Council of Europe
Coerced sterilisations and castrations: 'never again'
Strasbourg, 25.04.2013 - “Never again”, Liliane Maury Pasquier (Switzerland, SOC) declared today when presenting her report on coerced sterilisations and castrations to the PACE Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development. Adopting her report unanimously, the Committee denounced coerced, non-reversible sterilisations and castrations as grave violations of human rights and human dignity.
Even if in Council of Europe member states the number of coerced sterilisations and castrations is small, they cannot be legitimated in any way in the 21st century, the committee underlined. It called for clear safeguards against future abuses of the main victims, Roma women, convicted sex offenders, transgender persons and persons with disabilities, and the marginalised, stigmatised, or those considered to be unable to cope.
The committee therefore invites member states to revise their laws as necessary,foresee adequate redress for victims – financial compensation as well as official apologies – and recommends preventive work to change mentalities, including paternalistic attitudes in the medical profession.
PACE conference in Warsaw focuses on freedom of expression for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people
PACE conference in Warsaw focuses on freedom of expression for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people
13.03.2013 – Freedom of expression for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people – including their right to organise marches and rallies – will be the theme of a parliamentary conference in Warsaw on Tuesday 19 March 2013, organised by the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in co-operation with the Sejm, the lower house of the Polish parliament.
Experts will present the latest information on laws around Europe banning so-called “homosexual propaganda”, recent research on homophobic hate speech, Council of Europe standards in this field and recent action at UN and EU level. Organisers of banned gay pride marches in St Petersburg and Belgrade will also testify to their experiences.
The Deputy Speaker of the Sejm, Wanda Nowicka, will open the conference. Other participants include:
- Agnieszka Kozlowska-Rajewicz, Secretary of State, Polish Government Plenipotentiary for Equal Treatment
- Brigitta Ohlsson, Swedish EU Affairs Minister
- Sir Nicolas Bratza, former President of the European Court of Human Rights
- Robert Biedron, member of the Polish delegation to PACE, Vice-Chair of the Sejm’s Committee on Justice and Human Rights
- Calliope Spanou, Greek Ombudsperson
- Tina Acketoft, Chairperson of the PACE Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination
The day before the conference, the committee is due to make public a memorandum by Håkon Haugli (Norway, SOC) on “Tackling discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity”.
More details at:
Second International Intersex Forum reaffirms Human Rights principles
Delegates of the Second International Intersex Forum
Second International Intersex Forum reaffirms Human Rights principles
The second International Intersex Forum organised in partnership by ILGA
gathering intersex activists from all other the world took place from 09th
December in Stockholm, Sweden.
The Forum agreed to affirm the principles of the first International Intersex Forum and extended the demands aiming to end discrimination against intersex people and to ensure the right of bodily integrity and self-determination:
- To put an end to mutilating and ‘normalising’ practices such as genital surgeries, psychological and other medical treatments, including infanticide and selective abortion (on the grounds of intersex).
- To ensure that the personal, free, prior, and fully informed consent of the intersex individual is a compulsory requirement in all medical practices and protocols.
- Creating and facilitating supportive, safe and celebratory environments for intersex people, their families and surroundings.
- In view of ensuring the bodily integrity and health of the intersex child, psycho-social support and non-pathologising peer support be provided to parents and/or care providers and the child`s immediate family instead of surgical or other medical treatment unless such interventions are live-saving.
- The provision of all human rights and citizenship rights to intersex people.
- The provision of access to one`s own medical records and any documentation, and the affirmation of the intersex person`s right to truth.
- The acknowledgement and redress of the suffering and injustice caused in the past.
In view of the above the Forum calls on:
- The United Nations to take on board intersex rights in its human rights work.
- Other regional and national human rights institutions to address the human rights of intersex people in their work and in turn call on their respective governments/institutions to affirm them.
- Human rights organisations and LGBTI specific organisations to give visibility and inclusion to intersex people and their human rights concerns.
- Intersex people to link up to the intersex movement and help it become more visible.
Finally the Forum calls on the members of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association currently gathered in Stockholm for the ILGA World Conference 2012
to support the creation of an Intersex Secretariat with the ILGA structure.
For further information please contact:
Read more about the Second International Intersex Forum here.
Photo © Del LaGrace Volcano
Strasbourg Commissioners Launch Speaking Notes
If someone had told me in 2005 when I started international trans activism that I would be standing here in 2011, I would have thought the person must have lost his mind, or at least, has lets say, very unrealistic expectations.
However I do stand here and it is not so much about me personally but much more about someone representing trans people standing here, being invited to an event like this. This is what I would have believed unlikely. Well, trans issues have made huge progress in the human rights framework in the last years.
In 2008 there was a transgender expert meeting held here in Strasbourg upon the invitation of Thomas Hammarberg. He opened this meeting saying: and now it is time for the “T”, and I must say he was true to his word. I think that there are few high level human rights advocates who are so much aware of trans issues as Commissioner Hammarberg. It took a lot of political will, courage to take up trans issues that way and commitment to go on with it.
And therefore I would would like to thank you Mister Hammarberg and all your office not only for inviting Transgender Europe to speak on this occasion today but as well for your ongoing commitment and support for the trans cause.
Now let me come to the report.
It is safe to say that in the study and report Gender identity issues have been thoroughly addressed and the needs and rights of transgender people are carefully taken into account. The authors proved not only to have listened very carefully to the trans community but have understood the issue as a whole. They have understood the specialties of trans peoples lives and have carefully assessed the similarities and differences between sexual orientation and gender identity issues. This resulted in a well thought through analysis but as well in right to the point recommendations addressing gender identity and sexual orientation in a human rights framework.
And I believe it is this what makes the report quite unique and I have no doubts that it will be a highly useful tool in addressing human rights in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity in the member states of the Council of Europe.
Certainly we cannot and will not repeat all the trans relevant recommendations and aspects of the report but highlight those which we deem very relevant.
Access to Health Care
The Commissioner’s report found that in 13 member states no gender reassignment treatment is available at all or of sufficient quality. This means that in nearly a third of the member states trans people cannot access what is often a lifesaver for many. In the remaining countries, requirements to access transgender-related health care are often excessive.
We share the Commissioner’s concern that perfectly sane people have to obtain a psychiatric diagnosis first before being able to access necessary treatment. This has nothing to do with ensuring that trans people can enjoy the best attainable standard of health.
Commissioner Hammarberg has already made it crystal clear in his issue paper 2009: From a human rights and health care perspective no mental disorder needs to be diagnosed in order to give access to treatment for a condition in need of medical care.
We should not underestimate the stigma and social exclusion trans people are facing, reinforced by such a diagnosis. That fact that I needed to be diagnosed as mentally disturbed prevented me for many years to embrace my gender identity. For my mother, who is a psychiatrist, it took even longer – more than a decade until she could except that she has a son now instead of a daughter. We could have lost contact altogether as a family. A sad reality for many trans people. Today, my mother is proud of me. It is a guess only, but hinting at Commissioner Hammarberg’s unwavering support for trans issues has certainly had its impact.
Transgender people do not need doctors to test them for their true core. What is required is educated counselling provided by well-trained staff about options, possibilities, support for times of challenges. All in all, gender reassignment treatment is a necessary medical treatment for those who seek it. It should be regarded on an equal level with other health conditions with the goal of obtaining the best attainable standard of health not satisfying societal gender norms.
(It is no coincidence that we are celebrating each year the International Day Against Homophobia to celebrate the removal of homosexuality from the International Catalogue of Diseases. Thus, we are calling upon governments to take prompt action and review existing national catalogues and to develop, together with trans people and their communities, alternatives to ensure swift and accessible health care services for trans people.)
Accessing health care is linked to having health insurance, which is linked to having a job. But the employment situation of the trans community is of particular concern. Unemployment is about 50% in the trans community; when employed trans people are earning about half of the average wage. “The interview is over” Marie might hear when walking in the door for a job interview, if her height and facial features appear to be too male. Very few employers would even invite her for an interview if Marie’s references and training diploma feature a “Paul”.
Those who have a job experience discrimination on a daily basis. For example: in Ireland, a desk worker has to leave the building of her workplace each time she wants to use the washrooms. Since management prohibits her to use the women’s bathroom, she has to cross the street, to go to the café next door and use their facilities.
The Recommendations of this report ask for the promotion of measures aimed at ending the exclusion and discrimination of transgender persons in the workplace. Indeed, swíft action by member states is needed here. Guidance and support structures need to be developed and provided – involving trade unions, employers’ associations and trans people and their communities.
This brings us to the framework of legal standards where we deem recommendation 3 crucial: screening national legislation to detect and correct regulations which are discriminatory on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. Among those regulations certainly are in most member states of the CoE the gender recognition legislation, as they require unreasonable conditions violating basic human rights of trans people throughout Europe.
As Richard pointed out: legal gender recognition is the entry card to the labour market, legal gender recognition is the entry card to social life. Because if non- matching appearance, name and identity papers are an invitation to discriminate against trans people in all spheres of everyday life: even picking up mail at the post office, taking a plane or paying with a credit card might be a hassle then!
Therefore we could not agree more with what is said and recommended in the report in this field.
Because the need for reform of gender recognition legislation is ubiquitious in Europe: 10 member states do not provide for any mechanism of gender recognition, in further 13 states only partial regulations exist. 29 states require gender reassignment surgery leading to infertility as a prerequisite for gender recognition and or name change. This in itself is obviously problematic in relation to physical integrity. On top of that it puts trans*people's lives at the mercy of medical practitioners, because it is the medical practitioner who decides upon the provision of surgery and it is the medical practitioner who gives a diagnosis or not!
And there is no member state in the whole Council of Europe which does not at least require a diagnosis in order to change name and gender.
This means in all member states the question of having access to the job market, of being able to live a social life in dignity depends on a diagnosis of being mentally ill.
The Trans Community is disproportionally affected by violence and hate crime. Transgender Europe’s research has found reports of 37 murdered trans people in the last 3 ½ years.
This is only the tip of the iceberg. There is no safe country for transgender people in Europe. Nearly everybody who is visible as transgender has experienced violence or discrimination in public. Like in my hometown, Berlin, where a woman had slipped last winter on the ice. Those, who came to help her up, start kicking her when they realised that she was transgender.
A community that is faced with this level of institutionalised barriers and societal hatred is effectively barred from the right to self-determination and citizen rights.
We fear particularly for the lives and safety of trans people in countries like Italy and Turkey, which are the sad leaders in European comparison when it comes to reported murders of transgender people. And it is particularly bitter to see that those trans women, who have to flee their home country and seek asylum are turned away. This just happened to a Turkish Trans woman in Austria who had been beaten with iron bars, attacked with knifes and abused by the Police in Turkey and was about to be sent back by Austrian Authorities to a family that had threatened to kill her. Similarly, training and education are also well placed with the Swedish Migration Board, where a Russian trans woman, seeking asylum, was told that she was actually a “gay man” and that she and her partner “could return safely to Russia if they lived discreetly”. Even if she tried, she would most likely not even able to cross the border without being accused of holding ‘a falsified passport’ as her features have already changed due to hormonal treatment.
We would like to conclude our intervention by again thanking Commissioner Hammarberg and his office for his ongoing support and interest in sexual orientation and gender identity issues. We want to stress that this report and the study is again an important step in the direction towards equality for LGBT people in Europe. However this can and shall only be a first step! We will have to keep on working for the implementation of the recommendations in the member states.
With the issue paper on gender identity and human rights, with the recommendations of the Council of Ministers to combat discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and with this large scale study and report of the Commissioner for Human Rights the ball now lies with the member states of the Council of Europe to take it up!
And it is upon all of us, to constantly and persistently remind them and to constantly and persistently push them to do so such that one day we see all the recommendations become a reality.
Julia Ehrt and Richard Köhler
Speaking notes for the launch of the report: "Discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity" of the Human Rights Commissioner of the Council of Europe.
Swedish Court repeals Sterilization Requirement
Swedish Court repeals Sterilization Requirement
The Administrative Court of Appeals in Stockholm, Sweden announced today, December 19th 2012 that the requirement in the Swedish Law on Legal Gender Recognition that a person wishing to change gender marker must undergo sterilization indeed violates the Swedish Constitution (Regeringsformen 2 kap 6 §) as well as the articles 8 and 14 of the European Convention of Human Rights.
According to the Administrative Court of Appeals, this requirement must thus be removed and no longer be practiced when someone applies for a change of gender marker. This is also proposed by the Swedish Government in a revision of the law of 1972 on Legal Gender Recognition, effective July 1st 2013.
This will indeed strengthen the case for awarding the Swedish trans* people who are preparing for a class actions law suit against the Swedish Government.
Swedish sterilization requirement have been deemed among the harshest of it’s kind where the applicant must undergo surgical sterilization and must destroy any frozen sperm or eggs.
Source: Maria Sundin
Board Member RFSL Swedish Federation for LGBTQ Rights Co-chair Transgender Europe (TGEU) Global Forum for MSM and HIV Transgender Reference Group World Professional Association for Transgender Health phone
Kravet på sterilisering vid könsbyte strider mot Europakonventionen Kravet på sterilisering i könstillhörighetslagen för att få byta könstillhörighet strider mot regeringsformen och Europakonventionen. Steriliseringskravet ska därför inte tillämpas. Det konstaterar Kammarrätten i Stockholm i dag i en dom.
Enligt könstillhörighetslagen i dess nuvarande lydelse gäller ett krav på att den enskilde ska ha genomgått sterilisering eller av annan anledning sakna fortplantningsförmåga för att komma i fråga för fastställelse av ändrad könstillhörighet. Socialstyrelsen har med hänvisning till det avslagit en persons ansökan om ändrad könstillhörighet då personen motsatt sig att genomgå sterilisering.
Kammarrätten anser nu i likhet med förvaltningsrätten att kravet på sterilisering inte ska tillämpas eftersom det strider mot Europakonventionen. Kammarrätten avslår därför Socialstyrelsens överklagande.
Kammarrättens bedömning är att steriliseringskravet inte längre kan rättfärdigas med hänsyn till dagens värderingar, att kravet inte vilar på någon frivillig grund och att det är diskriminerande i förhållande till gruppen transsexuella. Kravet är således inte förenligt med förbudet mot påtvingat kroppsligt ingrepp i 2 kap. 6 § regeringsformen och artiklarna 8 och 14 i Europakonventionen om rätten till skydd för privat- och familjelivet och förbudet mot diskriminering.
Regeringen har i proposition 2011/12:142 föreslagit att steriliseringskravet ska tas bort i könstillhörighetslagen och att ändringen ska träda i kraft den 1 juli 2013.
TGEU Statement on NGO Call “Abolition of Prostitution” in Europe
TGEU Statement on NGO Call “Abolition of Prostitution” in Europe
TGEU Statement on NGO Call for “Abolition of Prostitution” in Europe
6th December 2012
On 4 December 2012, a coalition of NGOs issued a call for the “Abolition of Prostitution” in the European Union.
Transgender Europe (TGEU) is worried about the recommendations proposed by this call and its potential impact on trans sex workers.
TGEU believes that the call excludes voices of sex workers who are the real agents of this discussion. Sex workers rights activists have criticised campaigns that aim at silencing sex workers’ arguments around the issues of violence against women, trafficking, criminalising sex work and clients.
TGEU supports the view that sex work is work. We believe that the only way to end violence against sex worker women is to respect sex workers’ right to be free from all forms of violence and to take proper measures in parallel with the demands of sex worker communities.
TGEU believes that the proposed recommendations of this call endangers sex workers throughout Europe, rather than being a solution of aforementioned problems. Sex workers’ rights organisations and international institutions like the UN demonstrate that criminalising clients through as in the “Swedish Model” increases violence against sex workers and repression through intensified policing measures
, while decreasing access to health, justice and social services and fuelling stigma and discrimination
It is important to point out that sex work and trafficking are different concepts. Efforts that aim to link human trafficking with consensual sex result in further victimisation of especially migrant sex workers
In respect to all above mentioned points, TGEU criticises the perspective and the proposed recommendations of the call. TGEU believes that discussions around sex work in Europe should be carried out in close consultation with sex workers. We call for abolishing stigmatizing and discriminatory legislation and a fact-based debate on how to improve the living conditions of trans and non-trans sex workers.
Please see “Briefing Paper # 3: Sex Work is Not Trafficking”
by the Global Network of Sex Work Projects (NSWP) on how equating sex work with trafficking and existing anti-trafficking legislations result in further stigmatisation, discrimination and violence against sex workers, at:
TGEU announces Trans Rights Europe Map to mark IDAHOT 2013 [Media Anouncement]
TGEU announces Trans Rights Europe Map on IDAHOT 2013
TGEU announces Trans Rights Europe Map to mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia - IDAHOT 2013
May 14th 2013
On May 17, more than 100 countries worldwide will celebrate the day when homosexuality was removed from the mental illness list of the World Health Organisation in 1990. However, transgender identities are still listed as mental disorders. On top of it, trans people in Europe have numerous other reasons not to rejoice.
The bleak legal situation will be presented for the first time by TGEU in a Trans Rights Europe Map & Index. The map shows at a glance which of the 49 countries in Europe require sterilization in legal gender recognition and which countries do not provide for any procedures. An index presents a detailed overview (21 categories) over the legal human rights situation for trans people in each European country. The data is based on ILGA-Europe’s rainbow map.
As in recent years, TGEU will provide a detailed up-date of the Trans Murder Monitoring project at the occasion of IDAHOT. In the last five years more than 1200 reported killings of trans people have been collected worldwide. However, these numbers are only the tip of the iceberg; it must be expected that the reality is much worse.
The Fundamental Rights Agency will publish on May 17 the results of its survey on experiences of violence and discrimination of LGBT persons in the EU and Croatia. The survey is the largest of its kind with 93.000 respondents.
“All our collected data is clearly suggesting one conclusion: European countries do not take sufficient action to protect trans people efficiently against violence and discrimination. The time to act is now!” explains Dr Julia Ehrt, TGEU Executive Director.
“The Trans Rights Europe Map & Index and our Trans Murder Monitoring project make very visible that the problems trans people experience are structural and hence need a systematic approach.” emphasizes Alecs Recher, member of the TGEU Executive Board. He adds: “Trans people cannot wait any longer for the protection of their human rights. The EU has a crucial role in Europe to champion trans rights.”
More information is available for download on the following links:
ABOUT TRANSGENDER EUROPE:
TGEU is a European Human Rights Organization with membership in 36 countries working for equality and inclusion of all trans people, registered under Austrian law.
TGEU awarded with two grants!
Transgender Europe's Co-Chairs letter on funding
Dear TGEU Members and Friends,
For some people it may seem like an eternity, but taking into account that TGEU was established only 6 years ago (and first registered in 2007), recent achievements are outstanding. The TGEU Steering Committee is proud to announce that TGEU has been awarded two substantial grants, one from an international foundation and the other from the Government of The Netherlands, securing much-needed support for our operational activities.
US-based Open Society Foundations has granted TGEU 52,000€ for one year (grant period 1 July 2011 – 30 July 2012) with the possibility of additional funding over the coming years. This funding is being matched by the Dutch Government which has committed over 100,000€ for an 18 month period (1 July 2011 – 31 December 2012).
Both funders are familiar with TGEU’s work in the field of international rights for LGBT people and, over the past two years, TGEU has developed a trusting relationship with the Open Society Foundation through our co-operation in the TvT project. After initial talks with the Dutch Ministry for Education, Culture and Science in Summer 2010, Marja van Bijsterveldt, Dutch Minister for LGBT and Equality, invited TGEU to submit a request for grant aid at the 15th ILGA-Europe Conference in The Hague in October 2010.
The funding is focused on strengthening the trans movement and its representation at the European level, which has so far not received any significant funding from public or private sources. As discussed at the 3rd Council in Malmoe (2010), TGEU's short-term goal is the effective consolidation of the organisation. In practical terms, this means ensuring that the capacities are in place by 2013 to apply for comprehensive core funding from EU funding lines. This demands that minimum organisational requirements are met such as functioning administrative procedures and sound financial management of budgets and accounts.
Focus areas for planned activities:
1. Capacity building of trans communities across Europe (through organised events, development of materials, information provision, support)
2. Advocacy to increase the visibility and inclusion of transgender equality and human rights issues at the level of the European institutions
3. Strengthening TGEU as a European-wide organisation / network (requiring greater professionalisation and increased accountability)
4. Awareness-raising about trans equality issues with campaigns and publication materials
While we are aware of the extra responsilibility and hard work that comes with receiving such grant funding, we are very excited about this generous support and truly believe that this is a crucial first step in the recognition and full inclusion of transgender issues in Europe.
With warm wishes,
For the Steering Committee of Transgender Europe
Julia Ehrt Richard Köhler
TGEU becomes member of the social platform
TGEU becomes member of European platform of Social NGOs
The membership of the Social Platform has voted postively on TGEU's application for full membership at today's General Assembly.
The membership is an important step for TGEU in establishing the voice of transgender people at the heart of Europe. The Social Platform and its members are committed to the advancement of the principles of equality, solidarity, non discrimination and the promotion and respect of fundamental rights for all within Europe and in particular the European Union. The Social Platform promotes social justice and participatory democracy by voicing the concerns of its member organisations.
Read more about the social platform here
A big thank you to Evelyne Paradis, Vice-Chair of the Social Platform's Working Group on Fundamental Rights and Non-Discriminatio for presenting the TGEU application to the general assembly. And a big thank you for the membership to welcoming us on board. We are very much looking foraward to working with you!
TGEU participates in hearing about future Gender Recognition Act in France
local activists and TGEU at
France: Gender Recognition Act underway
TGEU participates in hearing about future Gender Recognition Act in France
TGEU was invited to a hearing of a French Senatorial working group drafting Legal Gender Recognition Act in the next months. The audition took place on January 31st 2013 in Paris, where TGEU participated alongside with national trans organizations and the Council of Europe LGBT Unit. The legal draft shall be finished within the 1st quarter of 2013.
TGEU appreciates the valuable and high quality exchange of recommendations and arguments. TGEU was invited to bring in a European perspective to the table and provide examples of promising policy solutions that France should be inspired to follow.
The present Delaunay proposal
foresees to install a rather simple procedure without medical or psychiatric preconditions that would facilitate the change of name and gender in a quick, transparent and accessible manner.
TGEU presented the following recommendations to the French Senate:
- Recognition and application of the Yogyakarta principles and hence the recognition of a person’s gender identity in their civil status documents
- Found legal gender recognition on the principles of self-determination, the right to recognition and free development of one’s own gender identity, drawing inspiration from most advanced legislation in this matter.
- Ensure that procedures for legal gender recognition are quick, transparent and accessible.
- Dissociate procedures of legal gender recognition from medical interventions or expertise (this may not impact the accessibility of health services delivering gender reassignment services), diagnostic procedures or a requirement of divorce,
- Protect the privacy of the applicant and guarantee that no third party without a legitimate interest may obtain information about the legal gender recognition;
- Guarantee that legal gender recognition has immediate effect to alter all official and contracting documents showing name and gender of a person, particularly the Social security number, educational and employment certificates issued by state and non-state actors.
TGEU will continue to support the French trans activist movement in their efforts to create a law that would fully comply with international human rights law.
pictures: courtesy of TGEU
The CoJ decision on gender and insurance
European Court of Justice ends discrimination for trans people in insurances
Judges rule that higher or extra premiums on basis of gender states discrimination. Art 5 of Gender Goods & Services Directive (2004/113/EC) becomes void from December 2012.
On March 1st, 2011 the Court of Justice of the European Union declared that Art 5 of the Gender Goods and Services Directive (2004/113/EC) is void
The Court states (as we read in the press release) there is a risk that EU law may permit the derogation from the equal treatment of men and women, provided for by the Directive, to persist indefinitely.
A provision which thus enables the Member States in question to maintain without temporal limitation an exemption from the rule of unisex premiums and benefits works against the achievement of the objective of equal treatment between men and women and must be considered to be invalid upon the expiry of an appropriate transitional period.
Consequently, the Court rules that, in the insurance services sector, the derogation from the general rule of unisex premiums and benefits is invalid with effect from 21 December 2012.
Trans people will benefit from the Courts decision thanks to the unisex policy, which should end all insurance-based problems linked to legal gender reassignment
See official press release for details.
Find the text of the judgement here.
Transgender Europe welcomes Commissioner's Hammarberg newest statement
Thomas Hammarberg's new online statement touches various important trans issues
Transgender Europe welcomes the Commissioner's statement and finds it importantly specific on some of the subjects concerning transgender people, especially hate crimes, discrimination on the grounds of gender identity and gender expression, and the need for countries to stop ignoring trans rights and establish their own policies on transgender issues, with the recquired human rights approach.
The statement can be find below and on the Commissioner's website
Clear laws needed to protect trans persons from discrimination and hatred
Trans persons face severe discrimination in many areas of life, not least in employment, education, health care and leisure activities. Bullying at school is common-place. Surveys have demonstrated that about half of trans persons hide their gender identity at work for fear of losing their job. Forty-one transphobic murders have been reported in Europe since 2008.
Newborns are recorded as a boy or a girl and this distinction becomes a legal and social fact from then on. What is characteristic for trans persons is that they experience problems in identifying with the sex assigned at birth. It does not correspond with their deeply felt individual experience of gender; their gender identity.
Gender identity includes the personal sense of the body and other expressions such as dress, speech and mannerisms. Trans persons often present themselves differently from the expectations of the male or female gender role given to them at birth. They may choose to undergo hormone treatment and surgery to modify their body appearance to reassign their gender.
Today trans persons often lack specific protection against discrimination based on gender identity – protection that has proven to be urgently needed.
Transphobic prejudice and hatred
A report published recently by my Office demonstrates that attitudes towards trans persons show ignorance, prejudice and even hatred. The fact that “transsexualism” and “gender identity disorder” are often found in medical classifications for mental illness can stigmatise trans persons and restrict their decisions in the choice of treatment.
At worst, trans persons are victims of violent hate crime. A trans murder monitoring project carried out by Transgender Europe has reported 41 transphobic murders taking place in European countries since 2008. The countries concerned are Albania, Germany, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Serbia, Turkey, and United Kingdom.
Yet transphobia is rarely addressed specifically in national penal codes. In fact, only Sweden and Scotland explicitly cover transphobic hate crime in criminal law. While more general provisions found in some countries about incitement to hatred may be applied in such cases, this is not enough.
Discrimination based on gender identity
All human rights should apply equally to everyone regardless of gender identity.
Yet, gender identity is not always clearly identified as a prohibited ground of discrimination. International human rights treaties do not usually refer to gender identity specifically.
International law is however interpreted by courts and human rights monitoring bodies to include gender identity as a ground of discrimination. This year’s Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence became the first human rights treaty which refers to gender identity explicitly. The EU has also applied directives on equality between men and women to provide some protection to trans persons.
At the national level, only nine Council of Europe member states have included gender identity explicitly in their non-discrimination legislation: Albania, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Montenegro, Serbia, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Even in these countries, the terminology used varies which may limit the scope of protection. Eleven other member states apply equality law between men and women in line with EU practice. In the remaining 27 member states the coverage of trans persons under equal treatment legislation is unclear.
Reform legislation and monitor progress
Too often politicians and policy makers have ignored the human rights of trans persons when drafting legislation and designing public policies. There is a need to close this gap and start serious reforms and initiate social change. National non-discrimination legislation should specifically include gender identity as a prohibited ground of discrimination. Transphobic hatred should be recognised as a possible motive for bias-motivated crime and hate speech.
National and international medical classifications should also be reviewed to eliminate any stigmatisation or obstacles trans persons may face in accessing the treatment they need and making choices regarding care. The current revision process of the WHO International Classification of Diseases provides a timely opportunity for doing so.
National and international monitoring is needed to measure progress. National equality bodies and Ombudspersons should have a clear mandate to promote the human rights of trans persons. Change is only possible if European governments show a more genuine political will to address this problem, and much more determination to fight prejudice and discrimination.
UN: Historic First Condemnation of Killings Based on Gender Identity
UN: Historic First Condemnation of Killings Based on Gender Identity
Governments Condemn Extrajudicial Executions in Seminal UN Vote
Historic First Condemnation of Killings Based on Gender Identity
An international coalition of organizations dedicated to human rights celebrates
the historic vote in the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly to pass
a resolution condemning extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.
what's on with TGEU?
What’s on with TGEU?
What's on TGEU's agenda this autumn?
Summer has been a busy period for us as we have been preparing the usually hectic autumn season. See what is coming up and may be see you soon at one of the numerous events all around Europe!
Autumn starts off with this year’s highlight, the TGEU Capacity Building Seminar in Edinburgh, Scotland 11-12 Sept. We are excited to meet trans activists from more than 20 organizations from all over Europe and to learn together with you on how to make trans advocacy work even better! On 12 Sept the Scottish Parliament is hosting a reception for the participants as well as local trans activists. Cheers! We were overwhelmed with the number of applications for this event, proving its necessity. For those not attending the seminar, there will be a short clip produced! So watch out for it on these pages.
We are eagerly waiting for Human Rights Watch to present the HRW-report “Controlling bodies, denying identities” on the situation of trans rights in the Netherlands, scheduled for 15 Sept . Main focus point is the requirement to undergo gender reassignment surgery and becoming irreversibly infertile as a precondition to legal gender recognition. The research was done and the report was written in close collaboration and support of Transgender Network Netherlands, the foundation Transman and the Schorer Stichting.
On 19-20 Sept TGEU will participate at the EU Commission
Conference “Equality between women and men
”. It has been a long-standing political demand from TGEU and other human rights organizations that the European transgender movement is represented shaping EU gender equality policies.
We are proud to have a truly global panel discussion “Trans Rights are Human Rights”
in Berlin on October 5th
. The event is a collaboration of the Hermann Boell Foundation and TGEU’s research project “Transrespect versus Transphobia Worldwide - TvT”.
On 17 October, TGEU member Hatter
is organizing a one-day seminar on strategizing LGBT rights in Hungary. TGEU will be present, linking the current debates on strategic litigation in Europe and eagerly learning on issues at stake in Hungary.
On 12 October the EU Commission holds a Stakeholder Seminar “The Future of Families
” in Brussels. The seminar is free. See the link for more information and contacts for registering.
Turino, Italy will host from 27 -30 October
Annual conference “Human Rights and "Traditional Values": clash or dialogue?
” TGEU will present together with Human Rights Watch their findings of a report on the situation of trans people in the Netherlands. We hope to meet lots of you trans activists at the conference! After the conference, the steering committee of TGEU will have a meeting on 30 Oct – 1 Nov, kindly hosted by local member organization Groupa Luna.
And, to mark well in your calendar, ILGA-Europe will organize a strategic litigation training session on transgender rights on 10 December in Brussels. A call for applications will be issued soon. More information will be available in short time!
Thus, we hope to see you on the one or other occasion – be it in real life or in the virtual world!