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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, December 10, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 50
International News - Rex Wockner
Section One
ALL STORIES
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International News

EU report: Europe is inconsistent on LGBT rights
There is an uneven landscape in protection of LGBT rights in Europe, the European Union's Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) said November 30 in a comprehensive report to the European Parliament.

In some EU member states, legislation and practice is increasing the protection of LGBT people, while in others the rights of LGBT persons are being restricted or neglected, said ILGA-Europe, the European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, in an analysis of the FRA report on homophobia, Transphobia and anti-LGBT discrimination.

The report was produced in response to the Parliament's request for an in-depth examination of the situation of LGBT people, after anti-Gay laws were proposed or passed in some EU nations.

ILGA-Europe said the document also clearly highlights the hardship that Transgender people still face in changing their legal gender, which often includes forced sterilization and compulsory divorce.

Additionally, the real-life test requirement oftentimes leads Transgender people into unemployment and social marginalization, the group said.

The FRA called on EU nations to abolish divorce and genital surgery as preconditions to the rectification of the recorded sex or alteration of name on official documents.

LGBT people in some EU member states still suffer from violations of their basic fundamental rights to safety, peaceful assembly and are restricted in their ability to move freely across the EU, said ILGA-Europe Executive Director Evelyne Paradis. Some member states are single-handedly blocking the adoption of a new anti-discrimination directive which would level up the protections available to various communities, including LGBT people, from discrimination in the areas of EU competence highlighted by the FRA report.

The co-president of the European Parliament's Intergroup on LGBT Rights, Michael Cashman, added: The Fundamental Rights Agency provided the Parliament with an invaluable tool to assess the legal situation of LGBT people throughout the EU. This report shows the EU might be the world's most advanced region in terms of legal protection for LGBT people, but also that much more needs to be done for genuine equality.

The EU Agency for Fundamental Rights is mandated to provide evidence-based advice to decision makers in the EU. The evidence aims at informing EU and national policymakers about fundamental-rights challenges on the ground and at contextualizing debates on fundamental-rights issues. See www.fra.europa.eu.

Member nations of the European Union are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Currently seeking to join the EU are Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Iceland, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Turkey.

Malta OKs Trans marriage
Malta's Constitutional Court OK'd Transgender marriages November 29, reported Transgender Europe.

In a case brought by Joanne Cassar, the court ruled she now is free to marry her boyfriend.

The decision, which overturned earlier Maltese rulings, cites a 2002 European Court of Human Rights case that established Transsexuals' rights to respect for their private and family life and right to marry.

Dutch Transgenders will get new diplomas
Transgender people in the Netherlands have won the right to receive new school diplomas that reflect their correct name and gender.

The change resulted from a legal action against the University of Amsterdam by transgender activist Justus Eisfeld of Global Action for Trans Equality.

The Dutch Equal Opportunities Commission ruled that the university had engaged in illegal indirect sex discrimination against Eisfeld, who had been fighting with the school since 2004.

Education Minister Marja van Bijsterveldt responded to the ruling November 30 by instructing all educational institutions to adhere to it.

I am very happy not only about my own diploma, but especially about the possibilities for all Trans people to change their diplomas in the Netherlands, Eisfeld said. Hopefully the illegality of trans discrimination in all EU [European Union] member states will receive more attention. Knowledge is a first step towards a change of practice.

HRW: Senegal Gay ban promotes violence
Senegal's law criminalizing adult Gay sex contributes to anti-Gay abuse by police and the public, Human Rights Watch said in a 95-page report issued November 30.

The African nation's Penal Code Article 319.3 punishes unnatural sexual acts with five years in prison.

While the law ostensibly criminalizes conduct, not character, it is in fact used as a tool for targeting certain 'types' of individuals, HRW said.

The report explores the manipulation of public sentiment by some Senegalese political and religious leaders who have been instrumental in creating a climate of virulent homophobia, the group said. It also documents the prominent, one-sided, and at times hate-mongering coverage by many Senegalese media outlets.

The report, Fear for Life: Violence Against Gay Men and Men Perceived as Gay in Senegal, includes interviews with dozens of people who have faced threats and violence at the hands of police and others. It is online at

http://www.hrw.org/node/94451.

With assistance from Bill Kelley

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