Athens, May 17, 2022
Subject: «The GTSA calls on the State in view of the International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia, Transphobia and Interphobia (IDAHOBIT), to fully secure the rights of LGBTQI+»
The Greek Transgender Support Association (GTSA), is a voluntary non-governmental organization that promotes the rights and freedoms of trans, gender-diverse, intersex and LGBTQI persons in general, as well as sex workers, with this press release and on the occasion of the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Transphobia and Interphobia (IDAHOBIT), which is celebrated every year on May 17, a day dedicated to the ongoing fight against discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender expression, gender identity and sex characteristics, unites its voice with all democratic citizens and bodies that demand equal treatment and the fight against all forms of discrimination, calling on the State to respond to the guarantee of rights and freedoms of LGBTQI + persons.
Indeed, LGBTQI + persons in our country face a strong climate of negative stereotypes, intolerance, unequal treatment, discrimination, but also racist violence, while the community of trans and gender diverse persons in particular continues to experience institutionalized exclusion and of unequal treatment in all areas of everyday life.
The above conclusion is reinforced even more if we refer to the Report published every year by the Racist Violence Recording Network. The recorded data of the Network regarding cases of racist violence against LGBTQI+, show us that there is no particular improvement, for LGBTQI+ and especially for trans persons, where both discrimination and racist violence are at very high rates. Focusing on trans persons, the recordings highlight intense verbal and physical attacks in all areas, in public, in education, in health, everywhere, without any punishment for the perpetrators.
Based on the above, no complacency is allowed, on the contrary it is necessary for the State to take all the necessary legislative and institutional measures to combat unequal treatment and discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender expression, gender identity and sex characteristics.
A Guide for combating discrimination against LGBTQI + persons in all areas of their daily lives is Recommendation CM/Rec(2010)5 of the Committee of Ministers to member states of the Council of Europe, as well as the Commissioner for the Human Rights of the Council of Europe , which provide a comprehensive framework for achieving equal treatment in all areas of the public and private spheres.
However, in addition to these commitments that our country must meet in full, including the International Convention on the Rights of the Child as Greece refuses to register in the special registry office children of same-sex families born in countries where these acts are recognized, as well as and the (revised) Council of Europe Convention on the Adoption of Children, which provides in Article 7, par. 2 that States may permit adoption for married couples or by registered partnership , but also of Resolution 2021/2679(RSP) of the European Parliament of 14 September 2021 which calls on all EU Member States to recognize in LGBTQI couples equal rights of free movement and family reunification in relation to heterosexual couples, our country is required to join in the context of modern developments in relation to the necessary compensatory reform of the extension of marriage regardless of sexual orientation, gender, gender expression, gender identity or sex characteristics, as 17 Council of Europe countries have done (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom), and 14 countries around the world (excluding from the above: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, Taiwan, United States of America and Uruguay – a total of 31 countries worldwide) and giving really equal rights to LGBTQI + couples.
In this, of course, the Decision of the US Constitutional Court Obergefell v. Hodges of 2015 , according to which:
“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right”,
but also in terms of implementation, the Conclusion of the Committee on the National Strategy for Equality of LGBTQI + typically states that:
[…] any establishment of marriage should be done with legislation that will regulate the individual issues that will arise, such as for example the substantive, legal and terminological adjustments of the law of kinship, where this is deemed absolutely necessary.
Another issue that needs to be addressed is that of children already growing up with LGBTQI + parents but the State does not recognize parental rights to the non-biological parent. This creates a number of serious problems, especially for minor children. […]
Therefore, our country, responding to both modern developments and the need for full equality, it is necessary to proceed immediately with the legislation on the extension of marriage, as well as the extension of the possibility of joint parental care, adoption and assisted reproduction regardless of sexual orientation, gender, gender expression, gender identity and sex characteristics.
In relation to trans and gender diverse persons, as the GTSA has repeatedly pointed out, it is necessary to amend legislation 4491/2017, the legal recognition of gender identity according to the standards of Resolution 2048/2015 of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, according to with which the procedures must be quick, transparent and accessible, based only on self-determination and without discrimination – among others – for reasons of age or financial reasons, as not to change marital status and parental rights. Based on the above, the procedure is required to be extrajudicial, as well as to remove the restrictions due to age, to married persons, as well as to change the documents of any children in relation to the documents of their parents, while further explicit provisions for the change of documents of trans applicants for international protection and refugees and of non-binary persons, in accordance with relevant case law.
In the face of the pervasive climate of intolerance, even from public and political figures, it is necessary to amend and extend anti-racism legislation so that not only public incitement to violence or hatred is criminalized, but any form of hate speech in general and in addition to take additional measures when it comes to public figures, but also to have additional arrangements to deal with the public dissemination, public distribution or production or storage of racist material, as well as to have measures to protect human rights defenders.
Regarding the field of combating discrimination, it is necessary to extend the legislation 4443/2016 of equal treatment, in order to protect LGBTQI + persons other than work and employment, and in the fields of services and goods (regardless of whether they are provided in transactions or not), education, health, social care and insurance, as well as housing.
In the field of education, it is more than necessary to take seriously the recommendations of the Council of Europe, according to which:
[…] 31. Taking into due account the over-riding interests of the child, member states should take appropriate legislative and other measures, addressed to educational staff and pupils, to ensure that the right to education can be effectively enjoyed without discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity; this includes, in particular, safeguarding the right of children and youth to education in a safe environment, free from violence, bullying, social exclusion or other forms of discriminatory and degrading treatment related to sexual orientation or gender identity.
32. Taking into due account the over-riding interests of the child, appropriate measures should be taken to this effect at all levels to promote mutual tolerance and respect in schools, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. This should include providing objective information with respect to sexual orientation and gender identity, for instance in school curricula and educational materials, and providing pupils and students with the necessary information, protection and support to enable them to live in accordance with their sexual orientation and gender identity. Furthermore, member states may design and implement school equality and safety policies and action plans and may ensure access to adequate anti-discrimination training or support and teaching aids. Such measures should take into account the rights of parents regarding education of their children. […]
In this context, we call on the Ministry of Education to reconsider the positions and proposals, which we had publicly submitted in May 2020, on the occasion of the draft law 4823/2021 (“School upgrading and other provisions”), in the direction of an education that will promote the human rights of all our fellow human beings, including LGBTQI + persons.
In the field of health, in addition to the need to extend the legislation on equal treatment in the field of health, it is necessary to take other special measures in order to:
a) ensuring that trans persons, regardless of whether they have changed their gender registration through Law 4491/2017, will have unhindered and without violations of their privacy, access to health services, through changes that must be made in the state information systems, such as the Online Prescribing System, and will take any other positive action to remove any obstacles to the exercise of the right of full unhindered access to the health system,
b) full access to the health system, without the categorization of “mental illness” due to gender expression, gender identity or sex characteristics, which should be taken as natural variations in the gender spectrum, including non-binary and intersex persons,
c) full insurance coverage of gender reassignment procedures,
d) the prohibition of genital surgery or other medical interventions performed on intersex persons without their consent and in accordance with all international human rights organizations constitute a form of torture, the introduction of other positive measures for intersex persons,
e) the amendment of Article 62 (Conversion Therapies), par. 2 β, of Law 4931/2022 (Doctor for all, equal and quality access to the services of the National Organization for the Provision of Health Services and to Primary Health Care and other urgent provisions) , so that there is an explicit horizontal prohibition of any kind of psychiatry or other practice aimed at “converting”, “changing” or “redefining” a person’s sexual orientation, gender expression or gender identity.
f) amending or repealing provisions of law, presidential decrees, ministerial decrees or circulars that impede equal treatment of LGBTQI + persons, including access to examinations in security services, with non-psychiatric for trans persons, provisions for fostering or adoption that have requirements for opinions that stigmatizing groups of the population, 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,
g) the compliance of our country with the decisions of the World Health Organization and the immediate integration of the new ICD-11 classification list, which does not include the registration of the so-called “gender identity disorder”.
Also, regarding the persons who work in sex (regardless of gender, sexual orientation, gender expression, gender identity or sex characteristics), since 2016 the GTSA has publicly submitted its positions and proposals for the amendment of the existing legislation on sex work to be treated as all jobs with full employment and insurance rights, as well as to adequately protect persons working in sex from stigma and discrimination.
Also, on the issue of LGBTQI + applicants for international protection, refugees and immigrants, the GTSA has repeatedly submitted specific positions and proposals for the improvement of existing legislation , both in the general context in accordance with international and EU law, and specifically for applicants on grounds of sexual orientation, gender expression, gender identity or sex characteristics who are in line with Council of Europe guidelines and European Parliament decisions of 10 March 2016, which in point 12 calls on Member States to vulnerable persons, both in the asylum procedures and in the reception, etc., among whom the LGBTI persons are mentioned. In fact, it states:
“12. Underlines that, even in countries deemed safe, women may suffer gender-based persecution, while LGBTI people may also be subjected to abuse, and thus have a legitimate request for protection; urges all Member States to combat harmful stereotypes about the behaviour and characteristics of LGBTI women and to fully apply the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights in respect of their asylum claims; stresses the need for LGBTI-sensitive reception facilities across all Member States; highlights that violence against LGBTI individuals is common in reception facilities”
In this context, the GTSA even carried out the first research in our country, with the aim of presenting and shedding light on an invisible minority that, in addition to the threats, persecution or violence it has suffered in the countries of origin, when entering the first entry country, –in this case in our country–, they also face multiple discrimination, privacy violations, harassment or violence, both because of their refugee status and because of their sexual orientation, gender expression, gender identity or sex characteristics .
Finally, in relation to the rights of LGBTQI + and in particular trans people who are imprisoned or detained, also in accordance with Recommendation CM/Rec (2010)5 of the Committee of Ministers to the member states of the Council of Europe:
“4. Member states should take appropriate measures to ensure the safety and dignity of all persons in prison or in other ways deprived of their liberty, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons, and in particular take protective measures against physical assault, rape and other forms of sexual abuse, whether committed by other inmates or staff; measures should be taken so as to adequately protect and respect the gender identity of transgender persons”.
In this direction, the GTSA calls on the State, in addition to the very important decision of the former Secretary General of Anti-Crime Policy, Mrs. S. Nikolaou in December 2021, where trans women prisoners, who were in men’s Prison Penitentiaries , transferred according to their gender identity to a special area of the Korydallos Women’s Prison , to proceed immediately with the amendments to the Penitentiary Code in the direction of respect for the human rights and personality of trans persons in prisons or in detention, as well as the removal of discrimination and violence because of their gender identity or gender expression, following -among others- the guidelines of the Commission’s Conclusion of a National Strategy for Equality of LGBTQI + implemented in June 2021, with the participation of our memorable President Marina Galanou .
The Greek Transgender Support Association, on the occasion of the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Transphobia and Interphobia (IDAHOBIT), calls on the State to respond to all the above, restoring equal treatment, equality in Law and State and at the same time to take positive measures that will ensure the protection of LGBTQI + and will remove all the exclusions faced by trans persons.
THE BOARD OF MEMBERS
GREEK TRANSGENDER SUPPORT ASSOCIATION
79 Sygrou Street, 3rd floor, Athens, 11745
Office hours: Monday to Friday 11.00-15.00
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