In Europe, new hope for transgender peoplePublished on Thursday, 07 May 2015 11:06
The 47 member states of the Council were urged to abolish humiliating procedures such as coerced sterilization and psychiatric assessment, which are needed in some countries to legally change gender. The Resolution calls member states to stop discrimination, and recognize and punish hate crimes. It also calls for the introduction of enabling measures that protect, uphold and fulfill the human rights of transgender people taking into account their needs and respecting their privacy and dignity. It also recommends that transgender-specific healthcare services are made accessible.
The Resolution is the first document to be adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly, the Council of Europe’s statutory advisory body, which tackles rights of transgender people in such a comprehensive manner.
Transgender communities in Europe, as well as organizations working to promote the rights of LGBTI people met the Resolution with enthusiasm. The Eurasian Coalition on Male Health(ECOM), which partners with the UNDP HIV, Health and Development Team stated:
“In Eastern Europe… transgender people are at an increased risk of HIV infection and suffer from discriminatory laws and practices that often prevent their access to HIV prevention, treatment, and care… ECOM believes that this resolution represents an important first step towards breaking down transphobia, discrimination, and stigma.”As UNDP Administrator Helen Clark noted during last year’s International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia:
“Punitive laws… have the potential to stir up homophobia and transphobia, and can have very toxic effects on people’s lives – shattering self-esteem, increasing marginalisation, and creating hurdles to accessing health and other services.”Igor Medvid, coordinator of the grassroots organization HPLGBT in Ukraine considers the Resolution “a good signal for the community beyond any doubt. Now we need to think about initiatives that would support countries to implement its recommendations.”
The adopted Resolution is good news for families of trans people as well. Such is the family of Anna from Ukraine who works in the non-profit sector on sexual health and rights and Yana, a doctoral student and a Russian trans feminist activist. The two have married in August in a third country where this is possible.
Anna and Yana speak highly of the Resolution for having addressed numerous discriminatory provisions, including the right to legally change gender and recognizing existing marriages of trans people. However, they wished that it had recommended the gender marker, which has caused them so many problems, removed from identity documents. Says Yana: “I don’t want to change one cage for another, or have three cages instead of two – I want no cage at all!”
Source: UNDP Europe and Central Asia