A new Council of Europe report provides an overview of the progress made in European countries to ensure full legal recognition of gender (EAA) in all areas of life. The report acknowledges progress in legislation, practice and public attitudes, but progress is slow and further action is needed, including to “depathologize” legal gender recognition and ensure that family members are not disadvantaged and that the best interests of children are duly taken into account. Press release Progress on legal gender recognition in Europe is slow, further action needed on civil and human rights aspects The French Parliament yesterday evening adopted a long-awaited legal gender recognition procedure. The procedure puts an end to arbitrariness and medicalization. The lives of many trans people will improve because sterilization and proof of medical treatment are no longer a prerequisite for their documents to legally reflect who they are. However, this is a missed opportunity because the law is not based on self-determination and does not give all trans minors access to legal gender recognition. Clémence Zamora-Cruz, member of the TGEU Steering Committee, added: “This procedure does not imply total self-determination and therefore continues to give judges a central role in determining and recognizing the validity of an applicant`s gender identity. It is also particularly painful that young people continue to be denied recognition of their gender identity in France. • The France actively participated in the diplomatic work that led to the adoption in September 2014 of a resolution condemning discrimination and violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity by the Human Rights Council (HRC). Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people are still severely discriminated against in many parts of the world.
• In June 2016, the Human Rights Council adopted a resolution on violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, introduced by Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Chile, Mexico and Colombia. This resolution led to the creation of an independent expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity for the first time in this field. Under the new law, sustained efforts “to change or reprimand sexual orientation or gender identity” that affect victims` physical or mental health are punishable by up to two years in prison and a fine of 30,000 euros ($34,000). The report also contains some general recommendations. Equal treatment legislation should be accompanied by appropriate policy measures for its implementation and regular reviews. Member States that do not currently have anti-discrimination legislation to protect gender identity should introduce it. Grounds related to the victim`s gender identity or sex characteristics must be considered “aggravating factors.” Celebrated and controversial – breakthrough in France`s first gender recognition law Last week, France`s National Assembly passed a law that removes the surgical requirement for people who want to change sex in official documents. This change reflects a growing understanding among lawmakers that each person`s sex change is different and that sex change should not require private medical information. The NCTE applauds France for this step forward and will continue to advocate for the elimination of medical standards and the relaxation of gender reassignment requirements for state and federal ID cards here in the United States. For more information on current state and federal policies on identity documents, visit the NCTE Identity Documents Center. This is the first thematic report on the implementation of Recommendation CM/Rec(2010)5 on measures to combat discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity, focusing on the specific aspect of the Recommendation on AAS. While support for LGBTI rights, including the concept of legal gender recognition, is firmly entrenched in Europe, there are significant differences between countries, the report shows.
38 Council of Europe member states have a legal or administrative procedure to ensure legal gender recognition, and nine have a system of self-determination. However, in some countries there is no clear procedure and others have reversed existing protection by making EAA impossible. For some transgender, intersex and gender-diverse people, this means having official documents that do not match their gender identity. This makes them more vulnerable to discrimination and violence. Another problem is the growing resistance to the human rights of transgender people in some countries, accompanied by a lack of public information about their situation. • The France worked on the drafting of the Human Rights Council resolution on sexual orientation and gender identity in June 2011. She also supported the Historical Group on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity at the 19th session of the Human Rights Council in March 2012. Although French legislation was a step in the right direction, many proponents argue that the law did not go far enough, as it still requires people to go to court to change their legal sex. Other countries such as Malta, Argentina and Canada have more elaborate gender change policies. In 2015, Malta became the first country among European Union member states to establish the right to change sex characteristics through self-declaration.
In 2012, Argentina passed a law ensuring that all people can request that their registered gender be changed if they do not agree with the perceived gender identity. In the same year, New Zealand introduced a passport policy that allowed applicants to self-declare their gender (M, F or X). The new legislation brings the France closer to the implementation of Resolution 2048 on discrimination against transgender people, adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in 2015. The Assembly expressed concern about the right to privacy and physical autonomy of persons subject to gender recognition procedures and called on member States to combat discrimination against transgender people. The Assembly discussed various aspects of anti-discrimination legislation and policy, including legal recognition of sex, treatment of sex reassignment and health care, as well as information, awareness-raising and training.