EUROPEAN COURT / ROMANIA : LGBTI – Lack of proper legal framework, Strasbourg says

LGBTI rights groups welcome judgement finding Romania in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights because of a lack of proper legal framework for legal gender recognition

ILGA Europe (19.01.2021) – – Romania has been found to be in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights because its authorities present transgender people with an impossible dilemma.

LGBTI rights organisations, ILGA-Europe and Transgender Europe (TGEU) have welcomed today’s judgment in the cases of X and Y v Romania, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) found a violation of Article 8 of the European Convention, in that Romania lacked a clear and foreseeable legal framework for the legal gender recognition. The Court’s judgment was informed by a third-party intervention submitted jointly by ILGA-Europe and TGEU.


The applicants in the case, Mr. X and Mr. Y, spent years in the national courts requesting the authorisation for gender reassignment from female to male and an administrative change of forename and personal digital identity code, and other necessary changes in the civil-status register indicating the applicant’s new forename and male gender. The relevant administrative corrections were refused on the grounds that persons making such requests had to provide proof that they had undergone gender reassignment surgery.


While Applicant X was able to obtain male forenames by deed poll in the UK in 2015, he continued suffering constant inconvenience owing to the mismatch between the female identifiers on the papers issued by the Romanian authorities and the male identifiers on the various documents he had obtained in the United Kingdom. While waiting for a decision from the European Court, Applicant Y felt compelled to undergo various surgeries in order to be able to make the necessary alterations to his civil-status records and have a new birth certificate issued.


The ECtHR observed that the lack of procedure and unreasonable requirements by the national courts had presented both applicants with an impossible dilemma: either they were forced to undergo the surgery, contrary to their right to respect for their physical integrity, or they had to forego recognition of their gender identity, which also came within the scope of respect for private life.


ECtHR finding

The Court found a violation of ECHR Article 8 in that Romania lacked a clear and foreseeable legal framework for legal gender recognition. The Court recalled recommendations by the Committee of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, as well as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Independent Expert on SOGI calling on States to adopt procedures allowing persons to have their name and gender changed on official documents in a quick, transparent and accessible manner.


The Court also found that the State failed to provide fair balance between the general interest and the individual interests of the persons concerned.


Unfortunately, the Court did not address Article 14 claims on non-discrimination based on gender identity that affects the applicants, and thus did not clearly condemn any surgery requirements in legal gender recognition procedures as discriminatory.


Romania’s ACCEPT association estimates that around 120,000 transgender people live in the country, while less than 50 have managed to change their civil status documents in the last 20 years.


According Patrick Brăila, co-president of ACCEPT: “Gender identity is an inner feeling and a deeply private one, which must be ascertained by the civil status authority on the basis of the trans person’s statement, without being required to provide medical evidence, the testimonies of others, or worse, to be forced to undergo surgery on the genitals that the person in question either does not want or that are impossible to have in our country, due to the absence of specialists in the field. These interventions cost over €50,000 in foreign countries. We therefore request the Government of Romania, which has the obligation to implement this decision, to develop in collaboration with the ACCEPT Association and the transgender community in Romania, a simplified administrative procedure that allows the modification of identity documents of trans persons, respecting their dignity and personal autonomy and their right to self-determination.”


Welcoming the judgement, Antonella Lerca, member of the TGEU Board said: “Transgender people in Romania are very excited about the news from the European Court of Human Rights. We have been waiting for a long time to hear this, particularly those at the margins. Trans sex workers, poor and homeless trans people, have been rejected by society and been trampled on by the State. We call upon the Romanian state to respect its obligations and immediately introduce a legal gender recognition procedure that is quick, transparent, and accessible and based on self-determination.”


Head of Litigation at ILGA-Europe, Arpi Avetisyan added: “We welcome this judgment as it reiterates the need for establishment of a clear legal framework for the legal gender recognition without any requirements violating the right to privacy and bodily integrity in Council of Europe Member States. Putting trans people in a dilemma of choosing between having their physical integrity respected or having their gender identity recognised is unacceptable. The Court took note of declining number of Member States requiring gender reassignment surgery as a prerequisite for legal gender recognition. It is time that countries across Europe set in place legal gender recognition procedures in line with international human rights standards.”

Photo Credits : European Court of Human Rights

TURKEY arrests dozens of students at peaceful protest over LGBT rights

By News Wires


President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday lashed out at Turkey’s LGBT movement, accusing it of “vandalism” following an outbreak of student protests.


France24/AFP (02.02.2021) – – Four people were arrested over the weekend for depicting Islam’s holiest site with pictures of the LGBT rainbow flag during a rally at Istanbul‘s Bogazici University.


And shortly after Erdogan‘s televised speech on Monday, another rally erupted at the same school with dozens of people detained and social media footage showing police dragging away students who had been protesting peacefully.


“We will carry our young people to the future, not as the LGBT youth, but as the youth that existed in our nation’s glorious past,” Erdogan said during a video linkup with members of his ruling AK Party.


“You are not the LGBT youth, not the youth who commit acts of vandalism. On the contrary, you are the ones who repair broken hearts.”


‘Inciting hatred’ 


Rights groups accuse Erdogan of taking the mostly Muslim but officially secular country on an increasingly socially conservative course during his 18 years in power.


Homosexuality has been legal throughout modern Turkey’s history.


But gay people often face harassment, and LGBT events — including Istanbul Pride — have been blocked under Erdogan.


Turkey was hit by a wave of student protests last month after Erdogan appointed a loyalist as the head of Bogazici University.


During one demonstration last Friday protesters hung an artwork opposite the new rector’s office depicting the holy site in Mecca and images of the LGBT movement’s rainbow flag.


Turkish police accused four people of “inciting hatred in the population”. Two of them have been remanded in custody and the other two placed under house arrest.


Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu branded the suspects “four LGBT freaks”.


Groups of students once again demonstrated at Bogazici university on Monday despite the presence of hundreds of riot police, demanding the four be freed and the rector stand down.


AFP reporters saw several students dragged away by the police and Istanbul’s governor later confirmed 159 people had been arrested.


Further afield in the Aegean resort city of Izmir, social media posts showed police scuffling with a small group of rainbow flag-waving students.


The rallies have echoes of the 2013 protests that sprang up against plans to demolish an Istanbul park before spreading nationally and presenting a direct challenge to Erdogan’s rule.


Erdogan last month accused some of those taking part in the student demonstrations of being “terrorists”.


Photo Credits : Reuters / Murad Sezer


INDONESIA: Aceh, 80 public flogging of two young gay men

During the flogging, the two, in their 20s, shouted and begged for mercy several times. The mother of one of them passed out on hearing the cries of her son. A “show” that has raised criticism from activists and human rights NGOs. For local officials, sharia-based verdicts must be applied and cannot be waived.

Asianews / Agencies (29.01.2021) – – A homosexual couple from Aceh, the most conservative Indonesian province and the only one in which Islamic law is in force, were flogged 80 times in a “public show” that has raised criticism from activists and human rights NGOs. The execution of the sentence took place yesterday: both had been sentenced to 80 blows for acts contrary to Islamic morality (relations between people of the same sex).

The authorities refused to reveal the identity of the two, who repeatedly screamed in pain during the lashes, begging the executioner for mercy. The officers called to enforce the verdict continued regardless of the shouts, hitting them on the back with a rattan stick. In a moment of pity, the officers stopped the flogging to allow the two young men, in their twenties, to quench their thirst and then resume with the blows.

During the execution of the sentence, the mother of one of the two passed out hearing the screams of pain and the pleading of her son.

Public official Heru Triwijanarko stresses that sentences under the sharia are final and cannot be waived. The two had been arrested in November, after the landlord of the house they had rented found them half naked in a room. Also yesterday four other people, between 17 and 40 years old, were whipped for drinking alcohol or meeting “people of the opposite sex”.

In the past, activists and human rights groups have called for a moratorium on flogging and President Joko Widodo himself has said he is against this type of punishment. However, it enjoys broad support from the majority of the local population.

About 98% of Aceh’s five million residents are Muslims. Sharia law came into force around 2005 following a peace agreement between Jakarta and the Movement for the liberation of Aceh (Gam), an Islamic separatist group. According to Islamic law, even “hugging” is part of a series of crimes (such as gambling, alcohol consumption or extramarital affairs) punishable by a specific number of whips. Article 63 of the Local Penal Code (Qanun Jinayat) prohibits homosexual practices, considering them acts of sodomy.

In the rest of the country, same-sex relationships are allowed, if they are over the age of consent.

Photo credits: AsiaNews / Agencies