Athens, March 31, 2023
Subject: «International Transgender Day of Visibility – The GTSA calls on the parties to commit to the full protection of trans rights and freedoms, in view of the national elections»
The Greek Transgender Support Association (GTSA), is a voluntary non-governmental organization that promotes the rights and freedoms of trans, gender-diverse and LGBTQI+ persons in general, as well as sex workers, with this press release on the occasion of the International Transgender Day of Visibility (TDoV) celebrated around the world every year on March 31st, calls on all democratic parties to include in their pre-election programs and commit to the post-election implementation of policies in the direction of the full securing of trans rights and freedoms, in view of the national elections on the 21st May 2023.
Trans persons in our country face an intense climate of negative stereotypes, institutionalized exclusions, intolerance, unequal treatment, discrimination, but also racist violence, in all fields of everyday life.
This is even more reinforced if we look at the data of the Reports published every year by the Racist Violence Recording Network, from which it is easily assumed that in recent years and without any particular improvement, especially for trans persons, intense discrimination and especially racist violence shows in very high percentages. The records of recent years highlight intense verbal and physical attacks in all sectors, in public space, at school, in public services, in the health sector, everywhere and above all without punishing the perpetrators.
In view of the national elections on May 21, 2023, all parties of the democratic arc are invited to take explicit positions and commit to the full securing of trans rights and freedoms.
Although Law 4491/2017, concerning the legal recognition of gender identity, was a first positive step, it fails to respond to the needs of our community, as it does not meet our country’s international and European obligations for rights of trans, gender diverse and intersex people.
The process remains to be judicial and this, in addition to all the privacy violation problems that have been recorded since the implementation of the law, does not correspond to Resolution 2048/2015 of the Parliamentary Asembly of the Council of Europe (CoE), according to which the procedure must be fast, transparent, based solely on the person’s self-determination, and non-discriminatory. On the contrary, the judicial process is particularly time-consuming and bureaucratic, it is not based on self-determination as the change of documents is decided by a court, while it involves discrimination based on the financial situation of the person as it costs a lot of money and this is particularly problematic as our community faces discrimination and exclusions from the workplace. In fact, more and more countries are moving in this direction and it is necessary for our country to move in this direction as well.
It also excludes married trans persons and this, in addition to violating the above-mentioned CoE Resolution, does not correspond to the spirit and letter of the decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) on case C-451/16 (MB v. Secretary of State for Work and Pensions), as well as in the decision of June 28, 2017 issued by the United Nations Human Rights Committee, while it is worth noting that the Scientific Service of the Greek Parliament pointed out that this exclusion is unfair.
In addition, it creates discrimination on the grounds of age, in contrast to the mandates of Resolution 2048/2015 of the CoE, as the legislation sets a lower limit at 15 years, while between the ages of 15 and 17 the procedure is highly medicalized. Our country should follow the example of other countries that have no age limit at all.
Furthermore, the registration of gender and first name of any existing children is not changed, as a result of which the secrecy of the process, as well as private and family life, is violated, while there is no express provision for the possibility of a third gender registration for those who wish to do so, according to Resolution 2048/2015 of the Council of Europe, which was confirmed by 2191/2017 for intersex persons, while this necessity also arises from Decision 67/2018 of the Amaroussiou Magistrates’ Court as well as from Decision 153/2020 of the Kallithea Magistrate’s Court.
Finally, the procedure does not include an explicit provision for changing the registered gender and name of transrefugees. The legal recognition of gender identity is the basic condition for the enjoyment of fundamental rights and freedoms for trans refugees, while on the contrary, the refusal to change their documents constitutes discrimination on the basis of gender. The necessity of including trans refugees in the legislation emerges through practices applied in the countries of the Council of Europe, all of which document without a doubt, that it is imperative to be able to change the documents for trans refugees, and to this end they are also supported by evidence of a related case which the United Nations had supported the change of documents of a trans woman refugee, as well as a series of jurisprudence in our country, such as Decision 444E/2018 of the Thessaloniki Magistrates Court, Decision 136/2018 of the Mytilini Magistrates Court, as well as Decision of the Athens Magistrate’s Court in 2020.
Conclusion: the legislation must be amended immediately, following -among others- the recommendations of the Greek National Commission for Human Rights, as well as the directions of the Committee’s Conclusion on the preparation of a National Strategy for Gender Equality LGBTQI+, in which our memorable President, Marina Galanou, also participated.
However, in addition to the legislation for the legal recognition of gender identity, our country is necessary to comply with the amendment of the classification lists of mental disorders, in order to ensure that trans persons, including children, will not be stigmatized, according to the Decision of the World Health Organization for the revision of the international classification list, the Resolution of the European Parliament 22.11.2012, the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) statement of 15.11.2017, and the position of the Branch of Intercultural Psychiatry of the Hellenic Psychiatric Association (EPSE).
In the health sector as well, beyond the necessity for our country to comply with the decisions of the World Health Organization and the immediate integration of the new ICD-11 classification list, the legislation for equal treatment should also be extended (L.4443/2016) and in the field of health, while it is more than necessary to take other special measures with the aim of:
- ensuring that trans persons, regardless of whether they have changed their gender registration through Law 4491/2017, will have uninterrupted and without violations of their privacy, access to health services, through changes that must be made to the information systems of the state, as indicatively in the Electronic Prescribing System, and every other positive action will be taken to remove any obstacle to the exercise of the right to full unhindered access to the health system,
- full access to the health system, without the categorization of “mental illness” due to gender expression, gender identity or sex characteristics, which should be embraced as natural variations on the gender spectrum, including non-binary and intersex persons;
- the full insurance coverage of gender affirming procedures,
- the amendment of Article 62 (Conversion Practices), par. 2 β, of Law 4931/2022, so that there is an explicit horizontal prohibition of any kind of psychiatric or other practice that aims at “conversion”, “change” or “redefinition” a person’s sexual orientation, gender expression or gender identity;
- amending or repealing provisions of the law, presidential decrees, ministerial decisions or circulars that stand in the way of the equal treatment of trans persons, including access to security forces examinations without psychiatric treatment for trans persons, provisions on foster care or adoption that require opinions and stigmatizing population groups, as well as the full inclusion in all of the above of non-binary persons and applicants for international protection, refugees or migrants without discrimination.
Furthermore, Law 4443/2016 on equal treatment should be amended, so that both sexual orientation and gender expression, gender identity and sex characteristics are included beyond work and in all other fields: health, social welfare and insurance, education, as well as the provision of services and goods including housing.
Last February, the equal treatment legislation was amended in the Greek Parliament (L. 5023/2023 – Official Gazette A 34 – 17.02.2023. Nevertheless, the legislator chose to review provisions of the legislation only for the disabled persons, without including trans persons, in this way clearly disregarding both the Resolutions of the Council of Europe, such as Resolution CM/Rec(2010)5 of Committee of Ministers of the Member States of the Council of Europe which provides an integrated framework for the realization of equal treatment in all fields of the public and private sphere and for combating discrimination due to sexual orientation, gender expression, gender identity and sex characteristics, as well as the Recommendations of the National Strategy for the Equality of LGBTI+.
Also, our country responding both to modern developments and to the need for complete equality, it is necessary to immediately proceed with the amendment of the Family Law, with the extension of marriage (and not civil marriage) without discrimination due to gender/sex, full child adoption rights , as well as expanding the possibility of joint parenting, and assisted reproduction regardless of sexual orientation, gender/sex, gender expression, gender identity and sex characteristics.
In addition, with regard to the widespread climate of intolerant speech in our country, which emanates even from public or even political figures, it is necessary to amend and expand L.4285/2014 (anti-racism law), so that it does not only the public incitement of violence or hatred is criminalized, but in general any form of hate speech, and in addition additional measures should be taken when it originates from public figures, but also that there should be additional regulations to deal with the public dissemination, public distribution or production or storage of racist material , as well as to have protection measures for human rights defenders.
Also, regarding the issue of LGBTQI+ applicants for international protection, refugees and immigrants, the GTSA has repeatedly submitted specific positions and proposals to improve the existing legislation, both in the general context according to international and EU law, and specifically for applicants for reasons of sexual orientation, gender expression, gender identity or sex characteristics which are in line with the guidelines of the Council of Europe and decisions of the European Parliament.
Finally, regarding persons who work in sex (regardless of gender/sex, sexual orientation, gender expression, gender identity or sex characteristics), since 2016 the GTSA has publicly submitted its positions and proposals for amending the existing legislation on sex work to be treated like all jobs with full employment and insurance rights, and to adequately protect sex workers from stigma and discrimination.
The Greek Transgender Support Association, at every moment and on every occasion, will continue to work with persistence both for the assertion of all the above that ensure the fundamental rights for trans, gender-diverse, and LGBTQI+ persons in general and calls on all parties of the democratic area to take explicit positions in view of the national elections on May 21, 2023, to integrate them into their pre-election programs and to commit to their post-election implementation.
In closing, we must refer to yesterday’s rejection by the Supreme Court of the appeal of the prosecutor of the Supreme Court against the release from prison of one of the perpetrators who abused Zack Kostopoulos/Zackie to death and who had been punished with a ten-year prison sentence without parole. We are ashamed of decisions like this which so blatantly defy any sense of justice and are a challenge to every democratic citizen.
THE BOARD OF MEMBERS
GREEK TRANSGENDER SUPPORT ASSOCIATION
15 ViktorosUgo, 10437, Athens
Trans Day Reception & Empowerment Center: Evangelistrias 6, Kallithea Athens, 17671
Tel. 210.9210 697 & 698 753 9741
Office hours for the public: Tuesday & Thursday – 12.00-20.00
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