GI Statement on High Court ruling on “X” passports

Campaigner Christie Elan-Cane has lost a High Court action against the Government’s policy on gender-neutral passports.  Elan-Cane’s case argued that the Government policy of obligatory female or male gender markers on passports was “inherently discriminatory”.  High Court judge Mr Justice Jeremy Baker refused to rule the government policy as unlawful. However, the judge was satisfied that, “right to respect for private life will include a right to respect for the claimant’s identification as non-gendered.’’ It is the first time that a judge in a UK court has make such a statement about non-binary gender in reference to the right to a private life.

Sascha-Amel Kheir, non-binary activist and Gendered Intelligence’s Volunteer Coordinator gave the following statement on the ruling:

“I’d firstly like to thank Christie for the time, effort and emotional labour that not only must have gone into this case but the three decades of campaigning leading to this point. It is an issue that affects many people personally, including myself, and something Christie has fought tirelessly for many years.

While the decision from the court is not the best case scenario, it is also not the worst. For the first time a court in the UK has recognised that forcing people who identify outside of the gender binary to choose a M or F marker for documentation violates one’s right to a private life under the European Convention on Human Rights*. It was noted that the Government is currently conducting a review of gender recognition policies with the long expected consultation on the Gender Recognition Act 2004 and this seems to have been important for the court when drafting its judgement.

Hopefully, the judgement will be considered during the GRA consultation process, especially now that it has been found to be a human rights violation. If not, it at least sets a strong foundation for strategic litigation if the consultations do not lead to the necessary changes in policy and legislation.”

You can read more about the ruling on Christie’s own blog.

 

Advertisements
New guidance for LGBTQI fans at the World Cup

New guidance for LGBTQI+ fans travelling to the World Cup in Russia

In the next few weeks, the 2018 FIFA World Cup will be held in Russia. Fans travelling to Russia for the World Cup can find guidance specifically for LGBTQI+ people in the Football Supporters’ Federation’s Free Lions Guide. The guide is a collaboration between FSF, the FA and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. A number of LGBTQI+ organisations, including Gendered Intelligence, were consulted on the content of the guide.

To assess the risks for travelling to Russia for the World Cup, it is useful to know more about the situation for LGBTQI+ people there.

Five years ago the LGBT propaganda law was passed which prohibits the promotion of “non-traditional” values to children. The bill is purposefully vague and its use is highly unstandardised. At its extreme, it could be used to effectively ban the queer rights movement and any expression of queer identity in public. There are also no anti-discrimination laws or specifics protections for the community so while being LGBTQI+ isn’t criminalised and people aren’t persecuted against in the vast majority of the country, life can be extremely difficult.

The understanding of what “non-traditional” could mean is crucial for understanding the impact of these laws and policies on people’s lives. For example, there are mechanisms for trans people to change their names, however, if a trans man wanted to change his name to one regarded as “traditionally masculine” there would be a slim chance of his attempts being successful. Whether or not he succeeded would be determined by the officials overseeing the procedure and be subject to their views. Likewise, applications to change one’s legal gender vary depending on the court overseeing the case. To change one’s gender, a medical diagnosis of “transexualism” is required but this is also one of the “mental disorders” that can be used to deny someone a driver’s license. For non-binary people, there is no form of recognition available outside of the gender binary.

In addition to the issues at the state level, the mainstream view of the general public is much more hostile to the community than in the West. However, this does vary considerably by region and thus, so do the experiences of LGBTQI+ people from different parts of the Federation. St Petersburg is the most liberal city in Russia and there are LGBTQI+ venues, although like in the West, most are aimed are cis gay men. On the other hand, the situation in the North Caucasus and Chechnya in particular is completely different.

While the Chechen government’s persecution against (perceived) gay cis men has been well documented, it has affected people of all gender and sexual minorities. Trans women have been subject to similar levels of violence as gay men. From the society’s perspective, they are seen as one and the same and denied their womanhood. As is normal around the globe, their stories have received much less coverage in the media. Queer cis women have also been targets of violence and persecution, however this is much more likely to come from within their own family in the form of honour-based violence rather than from the authorities. This is a different experience to most gay men and trans women who have been targeted more heavily by the regional government. There is no readily available information concerning the experiences of trans men and non-binary people.

As always, trans voices are going unheard and there is a danger that the experiences of trans people in Russia, and the hardships they face, will be forgotten amid the excitement of the World Cup. Instead there must be continued pressure on the Russian government to lift the propaganda law and properly investigate the atrocities perpetrated in Chechnya. While interest from the general public has waned, there is ongoing effort to change the situation such as lobbying from Amnesty International and work to support and evacuate LGBTQI+ people from Chechnya by ILGA-Europe and the Russian LGBT Network.

All those attending a game in Russia will receive a copy of the FSF’s Free Lions Guide guide with their tickets and it is also available here.

To see the latest update from Amnesty International on the Chechen Purge click here.

To support ILGA-Europe or the Russian LGBT Network click here or here.

Celebrating volunteers at Gendered Intelligence

Our Volunteer Coordinator Sascha Amel-Kheir reflects on the important role volunteers play at Gendered Intelligence to introduce Volunteer Week 2018.  

TodaNCVO Vol week Logo 2018 colour with tagline largey is the start of Volunteers’ Week in the UK and this year we at Gendered Intelligence will be showcasing some of our volunteers’ stories and experiences from volunteering with us. Their contribution to our organisation is not only vital to the work we do because it supports our team of staff, helping us achieve far more than we could on our own, but each volunteer brings a unique perspective that enriches the programme of services we provide.

I joined GI in February as the first full-time Volunteer Coordinator and although it has only been three months, it has been fantastic getting to know our existing volunteers, training and welcoming new volunteers to the organisation and developing new ways for our volunteers to support our work.

Volunteering is not only important because of the benefits it provides to organisations, but because of the many ways it can be of benefit to volunteers. Whether it’s through combating social isolation with opportunities to meet new friends, teaching people new skills with the chance to practice them in a professional environment and also providing a space for a diverse community of staff, volunteers, service users and their friends and families to develop around our service provision.

Next week, we will be sharing 5 stories from people across all aspects of

29790277_10156201603033058_1980809295028365555_n

Volunteers Peter and Jacqui running a stall at NEU’s LGBT Educators Conference 2018

 the Gendered Intelligence Volunteering Scheme; those who have been with us for many years to those who have only recently joined, trans people who attended our youth groups in their teens and cis allies to our community and experiences across our volunteering programs. People from all different walks of life give so much to GI and the trans community and we’re excited to highlight their achievements with us!

If you are interested in volunteering with Gendered Intelligence please visit our website for more information and complete our anonymous application form.