French government unveils national plan to combat hatred against LGBT people

The French government has unveiled a national plan to combat hatred and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people (LGBT), which emphasises the importance of inclusive education in stamping out homophobia.


By Christina Okello


RFI (14.10.2020) – – The three-year plan unveiled on Wednesday, aims to make members of the LGBT community “citizens in their own right”, French Junior Minister of Gender Equality Elisabeth Moreno told reporters.


It comprises over 40 objectives designed to tackle homophobia or transphobia in the home, school, university, work, healthcare or sport.


The 42 measures, some of which have already been implemented, will be “amplified” between now and 2023, notably plans to facilitate adoption for LGBT homes, Moreno said.


She also insisted on the importance of education.


“Because discrimination and inequality are rooted in childhood, they can also be corrected, by putting in resources (…) The school must therefore be the first place of awareness and prevention to participate in deconstructing stubborn stereotypes “.


Inclusive education


The gender equality minister has pledged to work with her counterpart at the Education ministry, Jean-Michel Blanquer, to “amplify” training for teachers serving LGBT students.


A website called “Educating against LGBTphobia” is to be set up in order to “give teachers the weapons to fight homophobia and transphobia, and allow the proper inclusion of LGBT students”, Moreno added.


The national plan also aims to act against conversion therapy, “abject and medieval practices” according to the minister, which try to change the sexual orientation of LGBT people. “We want to ban them outright,” Moreno said.


Same sex families have not been left out either. Administrative forms will continue to be adapted to include them, the minister insisted.


Grim figures


Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people continue to face discrimination in France.


In 2019, 1,870 people were victim of homophobic and transphobic acts, according to the interior ministry.


In addition, 55 percent of LGBT people have experienced anti-LGBT acts in their lifetime, the minister said, before adding that gay and bisexual people are four times more likely to commit suicide than the rest of the population. This figure is nearly double when it comes to trans people.


“This situation is unacceptable in the France of 2020”, Moreno said.

Photo: French Junior Minister of Gender Equality Elisabeth Moreno poses in front of her ministery where the LGBT (Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) flags hang prior to the presentation of a national action plan for equal rights against hate and discrimination in Paris on October 14, 2020. AFP – LUDOVIC MARIN.

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) – – 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.

Ecuador’s LGBT+ community seen suffering deadliest year in a decade

By Oscar Lopez


Thomson Reuters Foundation (21.01.2020) – – Last year was the deadliest in at least a decade for gay and transgender people in Ecuador, campaigners have said, citing a possible backlash against new laws enshrining LGBT+ rights.


There were 16 murders or violent deaths involving LGBT+ people in the South American country in 2019, according to a report released by the Ecuadorian LGBT+ rights group Silueta X Association.


The group said it was the highest number since it began keeping track in 2010 and most of the victims were transgender women. In 2018 it registered two LGBT+ murders.


“As the year went on, we were realizing that the statistics of murders were terrible,” said Diane Rodriguez, director of Silueta X and president of the Ecuadorian Federation of LGBTI Organizations.


“It’s tough seeing images of someone looking happy on social media, and then all of a sudden they’re gone,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation on Monday.


Rodriguez, who was the first trans woman elected to Ecuador’s National Assembly, said the legalization last year of same-sex marriage in the conservative, mainly Catholic country may have had “a negative impact”.


That followed a move by Ecuador’s top court in 2018 to legally acknowledge a lesbian couple as parents for the first time, while a law passed in 2016 allowed trans people to change their gender identity legally without having surgery.


Murders of LGBT+ people also rose in 1998 after homosexuality was decriminalized, Rodriguez said.


For the study, researchers monitored media reports of LGBT+ deaths, as well as complaints lodged with Silueta X directly.


LGBT+ rights expert Javier Corrales said the rise in killings may signal a backlash.


“When there is a major change in public policy toward LGBT communities … homophobic and transphobic arguments increase in frequency and maybe even intensity,” said Corrales, professor of political science at Amherst College in the United States.


“We have reason to think that an expansion of hate speech can lead to increases in hate crimes,” he said via email.


Attacks against LGBT+ people are common across Latin America, where conservative religious values and widespread violence can be a deadly mix.


In 2019 almost 40% of trans killings worldwide took place in Brazil, according to the Trans Murder Monitoring research project, from advocacy group Transgender Europe.


Meanwhile, Mexico’s National Observatory for Hate Crimes Against LGBT People recorded 57 murders of gay or transgender people last year.