LGBTI rights in Europe
Although much has been done in gender policy, in practice the results are not widely considered. What about rights of LGBTI?
It will not be long before trans people may only feel that their anatomical and felt gender do not match! At least, this is suggested by the eleventh “International Classification of Diseases” (ICD) prepared by the World Health Organization (WHO). With the ICD-11, the agency is doing better, which they could have done well thirty years ago.
At that time, on May 17, 1990, she introduced the ninth ICD: In homosexuality, the authority no longer recognized illness – the 17th May was then declared the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. Only: against transphobia, the WHO did nothing. On the contrary, trans * meant suffering from a mental disorder for the next three decades.
Now that the WHO is no longer pathologizing transsexualism, the question arises as to what challenges homosexuals, bisexuals, transsexuals and intersex people are encountering in Europe today? A Europe that does not stop at the EU's external borders and is based on the 47 member states of the Council of Europe.
Has the situation of LGBTI persons improved here? Or do we now, through the rise of right-wing populism, experience the legendary “backlash” that throws us back into times we have believed to be past? The taz has picked seven points and put together.
1. Registered partnership, same-sex marriage
In 2001, when same-sex couples were allowed to marry worldwide for the first time in the Netherlands, registered partnership became a reality in Germany. Seventeen years later, the Chancellor declared marriage a matter of conscience for all, lifted party discipline, and the Bundestag passed the equal marriage of homosexual couples with almost a two-thirds majority.
In addition to Germany and the Netherlands, marriage is currently available in 14 other European countries: Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and Austria. Incidentally, the Constitutional Court ruled that a distinction between marriage and registered partnership discriminated against same-sex couples.
Austria is the first European state in which marriage is protected under the Constitution
As a result, Austria became the first state in which marriage is protected by constitutional law. Armenia is the opposite: although there is no marriage for all, the state recognizes all marriages that have been made abroad – including same-sex marriage.
Elsewhere it looks like a wall: In Italy, Switzerland, Northern Ireland, the Czech Republic, Greece and Estonia, gay couples are only allowed to enter into registered partnerships – and thus enjoy fewer rights and privileges than married couples in other countries.
Turkey and Russia do not recognize registered partnerships between homosexuals. They do not even exist in Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Romania, Slovakia, Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus, Serbia and Montenegro.
2. Adoption of same-sex couples
At least legally, traditional family pictures are now a thing of the past in many European countries. The Netherlands laid the foundation for this development in 2001: since then same-sex couples have been allowed to adopt children there.
This was followed by: Andorra, Greece, Belgium, Spain, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland, Denmark, France, United Kingdom, Luxembourg, Ireland, Finland, Malta, Germany, Austria and – to a lesser extent – San Marino and Estonia (there can only the partners of a biological parent adopt their child).
But even without legal basis, homosexual couples in other countries, meanwhile, the opportunity to adopt children: In Poland in 2018, the Supreme Administrative Court ruled in favor of a lesbian couple, which wanted to register the common child on both mothers.
Also in Italy there is no law governing adoptions for same-sex couples. However, courts have repeatedly ruled in recent years that partners are allowed to adopt the biological child of their partner.
Lesbian couples do not have to seek adoption in all countries: since April 1, 2019, not only the childbirth, but also the “co-mother” is automatically recognized as such. This is regulated differently in Germany: Here, the “co-mother” must strive for a stepchild adoption.
In Ireland, a law is being prepared that will allow same-sex couples to register as “parents” for birth certificates. So far, only the categories “father” or “mother” exist on Irish birth certificates. In the case of donor children of lesbian parents, only the mother giving birth has so far been registered as such, no name is provided for the second mother – this is now possible with the neutral name “parent”.
In Sweden, a law came into effect on January 1, 2019: Transgender children giving birth are now registered as mothers, and mothers who have fathered a child as mothers in the birth certificates of their children. It is the first law of its kind in Europe. By contrast, the majority of European countries register transplants according to the gender they had when they were born.
3. Pathology and medical care
Abundant late, yet Denmark is a pioneer: In mid-2016, the government passed a law that no longer classified transgender as a mental disorder. Since 2014, transsexual Danes have had their gender identity registered on their ID cards. They do not even need a medical diagnosis and do not have to undergo surgical procedures that would lead to irreversible sterilization.
Such a regulation was not an isolated case in European countries. It was only in 2017 that the European Court of Human Rights found transgender sterilization to be a violation of human rights – at the time of the judgment, transgender sex was still a requirement in 14 European countries : Czech Republic, Slovakia, Luxembourg, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Finland, Latvia (as of 2018).
In mid-2016, Denmark passed a law that no longer classifies transgender as a mental disorder
With regard to the classification as a mental disorder, the WHO will follow suit at the end of May 2019. The eleventh edition of its International Classification of Diseases (ICD) no longer sees transsexuality as a mental disorder of gender identity, but as “gender mismatch”, as a mismatch between the felt and anatomical sex.
However, the ICD will not come into force until January 1, 2022. It remains to be seen which European countries will catch up with Denmark until then: So far, in Portugal, France, Belgium, Greece, Ireland, Malta and Norway, mental health diagnoses are no longer necessary to change their gender in the identity documents (as of 2018) ,
4. Sex Matching Operations (Transgender)
Even more difficult than the gender change in the ID card, gender reassignment surgery is emerging for transgender people: a mandatory requirement for hormone therapy and gender reassignment surgery is a so-called “real-life experience” in many European countries.
For a period of up to two years, transgender people who want to undergo a gender reassignment surgery are supposed to be the gender they want in society, and always have to consult with caring physicians and psychologists. Only after an appropriate diagnosis – for example, in Finland doctors have to diagnose “transsexuality” – can hormone therapy be initiated, followed by a gender reassignment surgery.
Trans organizations criticize this process: From their perspective, it represents only an additional torment for those affected. These would feel compelled to continue to live in bodies with which they could not identify.
5. Sex Matching Operations (Intersex)
In almost all European countries, only two gender options are available for the birth of a child: male or female. This binary classification often helps parents carry out gender-reassignment surgery on their own child as early as possible – the child's consent is usually not necessary. In Germany there is currently no law prohibiting gender-related interventions against minors.
By contrast, in 2015 the Maltese parliament adopted the “Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics Act”. Among other provisions, the law prevents gender reassignment among intersex individuals if they have not previously consciously consented to an intervention. This is intended to prevent gender reassignment surgery in early childhood, which is decided not by the children themselves but by doctors and parents.
The Portuguese government also introduced legislation in 2018 to prevent gender reassignment surgery in underage intersex people without their consent, but it also received criticism: operations can be carried out as soon as the gender identity of a child has “solidified” – the organization Intersex International ( OII) fears that parents could subject their intersex children to a gender identity and persuade them to consent to surgery.
In the intersex resolution, the European Parliament condemns gender reassignment intersex in mid-February 2019 and asks EU Member States to legislate as soon as possible on their physical integrity.
6. The third option, the third gender
Denmark is the first European country to introduce a third option: Since 2014, intersex people can not only register “female” and “male” but also an “x” in their passport. A few years later, Malta is catching on: the “Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics Act” is not just preventing gender-specific interventions; he also introduces the third sex. Since 2018, both the Maltese and the Danish government have issued identity documents with an “x” gender.
In Germany, the Federal Constitutional Court ruled in 2017 that it was unlawful that intersex people would not be given a positive name in the birth register. The bill subsequently drafted by the Federal Government provides for “female” and “male” “divers” as a third option.
In contrast to the first two options, the last option is only available if a corresponding medical certificate can be submitted. Intersex associations see this as violating the right to self-determination.
Austria also introduced “divers” in 2018 as a third gender option following a ruling by the Constitutional Court. However, as in Germany, intersex people in Austria can not decide on the entry themselves.
On 28 May 2018, a Dutch court in Limburg ruled that the gender of an intersex plaintiff * had to be changed from 'female' to 'undetectable'. In a companion report addressed to the government, the court also found that the time was “now really ripe for the recognition of a third sex”.
7. LGBTI in public space
In 2013, the State Duma passed a law against “propaganda of homosexuality” in Russia, banning the Russian government from distributing “propaganda” among minors supporting “non-traditional” sexual relations. Several countries in the post-Soviet space have passed similar laws.
In 2013, activists in Armenia tried to impose a similar law against “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” – but their efforts were unsuccessful: in October 2018, the legislative process was launched.
In July 2013, the Moldovan government also tried to initiate a similar law – but the draft failed.
Even before the law against “homosexual propaganda” came into force in Russia, Lithuania tried to enact legislation to protect minors against alleged homosexual and bisexual as well as polygamous propaganda. After protest by the EU Parliament, the openly homophobic tone of the law was defused – but the law still exists and refers to a “traditional family image”.
In Latvia, too, a law should be enacted that prohibits children from attending LGBT events or even watching them. In 2015, the Latvian Parliament passed an amendment to the Education Act, which requires educational institutions to teach students traditional values such as family and marriage.
A similar bill was introduced by Poland in 2017, which was supposed to ban homosexuals from teaching posts.
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