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NETHERLANDS to compensate trans victims of forced sterilisation

Transgender people will get compensation of 5,000 euros each after Dutch apology.

 

By By Karolin Schaps

 

Thomson Reuters Foundation (01.12.2020) – https://bit.ly/3gtwgbB – The Dutch government has agreed to pay about 2,000 trans people who had to undergo sterilisation to legally change their gender 5,000 euros ($5,993) each in compensation.

 

Until 2014, Dutch trans people who wished to amend the gender on their birth certificate first had to be sterilised and to alter their bodies, through hormones and surgery, to match their new gender.

 

“Such a violation of physical integrity is no longer imaginable today,” said Sander Dekker, Dutch minister for legal protection, in a statement.

 

“It is important to acknowledge the suffering of transgender people and to offer recognition, compensation and apologies for it.”

 

The Netherlands follows in the footsteps of Sweden, which in 2018 became the first country in the world to compensate victims of a similar sterilisation law.

 

However, the Dutch compensation package for trans people who changed their registered gender between July 1, 1985 and July 1, 2014 is much lower than Sweden’s payment of 225,000 crowns ($26,411) per person.

 

A number of European Union countries still require sterilisation in order to legally change gender, including Finland, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria.

 

“It is quite a u-turn,” said Willemijn van Kempen, a trans woman who was one of the initiators of the compensation campaign, which was launched in 2019 by a group of individuals and trans rights groups.

 

“Apologies and recognition are given after all the forced procedures on our body and the sterilisation resulting in an unfulfilled wish to have children,” she said in a statement issued by women’s rights law firm Bureau Clara Wichmann.

 

“I am happy with (the decision), but it still feels unreal and I have to let this sink in for a while.”

 

Nora Uitterlinden, a spokeswoman for Transgender Netwerk Nederland, welcomed the government’s apology.

 

“The wounds this inflicted on so many people and on the community as a whole are deep and enduring,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in emailed comments.

 

“Both those who ultimately underwent surgery and sterilisation to comply with the law as well as those who did not and consequently had to live without legal recognition of their identity.”





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Belgium to introduce ‘X’ as third, non-binary gender

By Gabriela Galindo

 

The Brussels Times (09.11.2020) – https://bit.ly/36wunXk – Belgium’s new government will introduce gender-neutrality throughout its term and make it possible for non-binary citizens to use the gender identifier “X.”

 

Federal Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne said gender inclusion and self-determination will be one of the policies he will work on throughout his tenure, according to a general policy note released last week.

 

Van Quickenborne’s note follows a Constitutional Court ruling last year which said Belgium’s law on transgender people should be made more inclusive, the Belga news agency reports.

 

The court found that the law, which was passed in 2017 to allow people to modify the gender assigned to them at birth, needlessly maintained binary masculine and feminine genders, making it restrictive and discriminatory.

 

It therefore ruled that the law must take into account a person’s right to self-determination.

 

The justice minister said that his cabinet would push modifications of the law in parliament to “make [the law] on gender registration conform with the court’s decision.”

 

Van Quickenborne said the changes in question were “an ethically sensible issue” and said he hoped the debate could take place “in an open and flexible way” in parliament, where it would face lawmakers from the conservative fringes, such as the N-VA and the Vlaams Belang (VB) as well as his party’s coalition partner, the Flemish CD&V.

 

The move to do away with binary gender norms comes at a crucial time for LGBTQ rights across the globe, as some countries uphold and pursue diverse agendas while others seek to suspend or restrict civil rights and liberties.

 

While countries like Sweden and China beat Belgium to the punch in terms of inclusive gender legislation by decades —with both countries having passed their first transgender laws in the 70s— Belgium is a trailblazer in terms of political representation.

 

In 2011, Belgium became the first country in modern history to be led by an openly gay man, Elio Di Rupo, who is now the Walloon region’s minister-president.

 

The country broke new ground again this year with the appointment as Deputy Prime Minister of Petra De Sutter, who is now the highest-ranking transgender politician in Europe.

Photo: People hold a banner reading ‘My gender is non-binary’ in the 2016 edition of Paris’ Gay Pride March. Credit: Vassil/Wikimedia Commons (CC0).





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UK gov’t scraps key transgender rights reform

Britain’s government has dropped plans to let transgender people change gender legally without a medical diagnosis, after two years of heated debate.

 

By Rachel Savage

Thomson Reuters Foundation (22.09.2020) – https://bit.ly/3iburiQ – Transgender people will not be allowed to legally change gender without a medical diagnosis, the British government said on Tuesday, scrapping a proposed reform that sparked furious debate between LGBT+ and women’s rights campaigners.

 

The government launched a consultation two years ago on overhauling the 2004 Gender Recognition Act (GRA) to allow “self-ID” in England and Wales – a reform opponents said could allow predatory men access to women-only spaces such as toilets.

 

While the “self-ID” proposal was scrapped, the cost for trans people to change birth certificates will be cut from 140 pounds ($180) to a “nominal amount” and the process will be moved online.

 

Trans rights advocates expressed disappointment at Tuesday’s announcement on the outcome of the consultation.

 

“It’s a shocking failure in leadership,” Nancy Kelley, the chief executive of Stonewall, Britain’s largest LGBT+ advocacy group, said in an emailed statement.

 

“While these moves will make the current process less costly and bureaucratic, they don’t go anywhere near far enough toward meaningfully reforming the Act to make it easier for all trans people to go about their daily life.”

 

Countries including Ireland, Portugal, Norway and Argentina have “self-ID”, allowing trans people to legally change gender via a legal declaration and without doctors’ involvement.

 

Almost two thirds of the 102,818 respondents to the British consultation said they backed removing the requirement for a diagnosis of gender dysphoria, a government report showed.

 

More than three quarters said they supported scrapping the need for trans people to show they had lived in their gender for a specific time period – currently two years.

 

But women’s rights activists who had opposed the introduction of “self-ID”, welcomed the news.

 

“It’s really good news and it acknowledges a fair balance between trans people and women’s rights,” Nicola Williams of Fair Play for Women, which campaigned against the reform, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

 

She said the group’s priorities would now be looking at how to ensure “privacy, safety and fairness” when it came to trans people accessing women-only areas such as hospital wards, prisons and changing rooms.

 

In the United States, women’s rights groups said in 2016 that 200 municipalities that allowed trans people to use rape crisis facilities and domestic violence shelters saw no rise in sexual violence or public safety issues as a result.

 

Some British trans rights campaigners expressed relief that the sometimes-toxic debate over the issue may now cool down.

 

Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling weighed into the issue earlier this year, saying she did not support “self-ID” as it would be “offering cover to predators”, a view she said was informed by her experience of domestic violence.

 

“Hopefully it means that so much negative attention that has been sent our way as communities can be quietened,” said Cara English of advocacy group Gendered Intelligence.

 

She said that their focus would now be “things that affect us in a much more material way”, including healthcare and hate crime.





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Disney, Google, Microsoft back trans rights amid fierce British debate

Trans rights have become a contentious issue in Britain as the government decides whether to ease the rules on legally changing gender.

 

By Rachel Savage

 

Thomson Reuters Foundation (14.09.2020) – https://tmsnrt.rs/2E0YZpq – Dozens of organisations including Disney, Google and Microsoft weighed into a fierce debate over transgender rights in Britain on Monday, writing to Prime Minister Boris Johnson to ask him to support making it easier for people to legally change gender.

 

Trans rights have become a contentious issue since the government launched a consultation into reforming the Gender Recognition Act in 2018, with opponents saying easing the rules could potentially let predatory men into women-only spaces.

 

Multinational companies were joined by universities and trans advocacy groups in the open letter to Johnson, which drew 83 signatories. Dozens more, including BP and Unilever, pledged support for trans rights in an online statement.

 

“We wanted to get this public statement out that says no matter what you’re reading from certain sources, that’s not reality,” said Bobbi Pickard, a BP project manager who came out as trans in 2018 and who spearheaded the open letter initiative.

 

“Being trans is something that’s a naturally occurring form of human development,” she said. “We all want our employees to flourish in their careers and their lives and trans people should be allowed to do that as well.”

 

Britain’s government has repeatedly delayed its response to the trans law consultation, and in June local media reported that it was set to scrap plans to let trans people change their gender on birth certificates without a medical diagnosis.

 

A spokesman for the government’s Equalities Office said in an email that officials were working through the results of the consultation and “will be responding shortly”.

 

Countries including Ireland, Norway and Argentina allow trans people to change their legal gender without a medical diagnosis, known as “self-ID”.

 

Prominent figures including “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling have expressed concern that “self-ID” could allow men into women-only spaces such as toilets and changing rooms, endangering women and girls.

 

Monday’s letter, which was initially sent privately in July with fewer signatories, pledged support for trans staff and urged the government to support the consultation’s findings.

 

“We all strive to be trans-inclusive organisations and believe that a diverse workforce, including trans employees, offers greater business success,” it said.

 

“Failing to honour the government’s commitment to implement the consultation findings, and even increasing restrictions on trans people’s ability to live authentically, benefits no one,” the letter added.

 

Robbie de Santos of Stonewall UK, an LGBT+ advocacy group that helped coordinate the campaign, said numerous companies had got in touch to say they wanted to show the British government that there was support for trans rights.

 

“Actually that support is not being heard in the mix of the often very toxic social media environment,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.





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Hungary ends legal recognition for transgender and intersex people

President Ader should not sign problematic new law.

 

By Kyle Knight & Lydia Gall

 

HRW (21.05.2020) – https://bit.ly/2Xsmuxl – Hungary’s parliament this week passed a law making it impossible for transgender or intersex people to legally change their gender – putting them at risk of harassment, discrimination, and even violence in daily situations when they need to use identity documents. The law is a major backwards step on transgender and intersex rights, and yet another violation of Hungary’s international rights obligations. It comes at a time when the government has used the Covid-19 pandemic as a pretext to grab unlimited power and is using parliament to rubber-stamp problematic non-public health related bills, like this one.

 

“Danny,” a 33-year-old transgender man living in Budapest, described his daily humiliation to Human Rights Watch. “I’m always stressed and uncomfortable … where I have to show my identity documents, for instance when I go to the post office or want to cross a border. I get funny looks, questions, and am forced to explain a very personal story to random strangers and that’s humiliating,” Danny said. “It really destroys my day.”

 

The legislation redefines the word “nem,” which in Hungarian can mean both “sex” and “gender,” to specifically refer to a person’s sex at birth as “biological sex based on primary sex characteristics and chromosomes.” According to Hungarian law, birth sex, once recorded, cannot be amended. This means that anyone who doesn’t identify with the sex they were assigned at birth – such as transgender people – will be denied the right to change their legal gender marker to correspond to their identity.

 

Intersex refers to the estimated 1.7 percent of people born with sex characteristics that differ from social expectations of female or male. Because their bodies are often misunderstood or miscategorized, intersex people may need access to legal gender recognition procedures later in life.

 

This new law compounds the marginalization trans people in Hungary already face. A recent survey showed that 95 percent of respondents in Hungary believe the government does not effectively combat anti-LGBT bias. It also violates Hungary’s obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights.

 

Hungarian President Janos Ader has a duty to ensure that people’s basic rights are not violated by unconstitutional laws. He should decline to sign this law and instead refer it to the Constitutional Court for review. And the European Union’s Commissioner on Equality, Helena Dalli, should strongly denounce Hungary’s attack against nondiscrimination, a core right enshrined in EU treaties.


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