The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) and the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights has organized a roundtable titled “Rights to equality, life and security of a person: bridging the gap for transgender people. The roundtable took place on 22nd – 23rd September 2011 in FRA’s premises in Vienna.
The human rights of transgender persons has been selected as the focus for this roundtable meeting because explicit protection against discrimination for transgender people remains unclear in many Council of Europe and EU Member States, despite developments in legislation and case law in the field of non-discrimination law. The findings of the FRA’s and Commissioner’s reports identify at least two areas where progress is needed to meet internationally agreed standards: 1. Legal certainty in the coverage of gender identity as a protected ground in non-discrimination legislation; 2. Homophobic and transphobic speech and crime, as well as other forms of harassment and violence against LGB and especially transgender persons.
The participants of the roundtable discussed the outcomes of the FRA report on discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation with a focus on discrimination of transgendered persons in employment and hate speech and crime on transpersons. Through the meeting there were expert inputs, working groups on best practices and possible solution processes and group discussions.
IGLYO highlighted the situation for transgender youth and pointed out, that problems in the employment sector do already start in educational systems. Transgender kids and young adults often have to face bullying in school or university. Possible consequences are cutting classes, dropping out of school/university early or poor grades, which leads disadvantages on the employment sector. IGLYO made clear that there is a lack of protection in education environments and that there need to be EU wide legislation that tackles this issue or that forces national governments to take the needs of trans youth in schools seriously.
When it came to hate crimes and hate speech, the lack of EU wide recognition of hate crimes against transgendered persons has been a big topic. Also it came clear, that the majority of transpersones do not trust the police and won´t report hate crimes as they have to fear discrimination or violence by police officers. The participants tried to find ideas to solve this problem, for example alternative reporting systems (e.g. the option to report a hate crime to a third party).
Moreover the upcoming European Union survey of LGBT People by the FRA has been presented. IGLYO and other organizations welcomed the survey but were concerned about the difficulties reaching LGBT people under age 18. IGLYO looks forward to working with FRA to address these difficulties.