25 Mar 2011

Why I am Marching....

To express my outrage against the ideological destruction of public services and attacks on public service workers and people who rely on public services.

In solidarity with all those who will be affected by the cuts in services, benefits and jobs.

Because I am a local government worker in the field of homelessness and housing options and being made redundant as a result of the Tory-led government's savage cuts.

As I believe in public services.

To protest against the greed of the rich and the bankers and will not allow public service workers, the vulnerable, the disabled and the Labour party to be made the scapegoats.

Because I am a socialist, a feminist, a trade unionist and I believe in human rights, fairness and equality.

Because there is an alternative.

UNHRC: A Stunning Development Against Violence

UN Human Rights Council: A Stunning Development Against Violence
Unprecedented Support for Statement on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

(March 22, 2011) In a stunning development for the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva, today, Colombia delivered a Joint Statement during General Debate (Agenda Item 8 – Follow-up and implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Program of Action) that called on States to end violence, criminal sanctions and related human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and urged the Human Rights Council to address these important human rights issues. The statement was delivered on behalf of a broad grouping of 85 States from all regions of the world.

Today’s statement enjoyed the support of the largest group of countries to-date, on the topic of sexual orientation, gender identity and human rights. It builds on a similar statement delivered by Norway at the Human Rights Council in 2006 (on behalf of 54 States), and a joint statement delivered by Argentina at the General Assembly in 2008 (on behalf of 66 States). It is clear that every time these issues are addressed there is measurable increase in state support.

During the same general debate, an intervention delivered by Nigeria on behalf of the African Group, still reaffirmed the critical point that “laws that criminalize sexual orientation should be expunged”. Other UN Member States and entities, for example, the Russian Federation and the Holy See, also spoke out against violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. South Africa, a signatory to the State joint statement, emphasized in a separate intervention, that sexual orientation is not a new issue for that country, and called for an inter-governmental process to ensure open dialogue on the issue.

Earlier in this 16th session of the Human Rights Council, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navanethem Pillay, had stated to the Council:[1]

“We are not trying to create new or special rights. We are simply trying to address the challenges that prevent millions of people from enjoying the same human rights as their fellow human beings just because they happen to be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.”

A powerful civil society statement was delivered on behalf of 119 organizations from over 60 countries welcoming the Joint Statement. Civil society also encouraged future dialogue within the Council, with the support of those States which did not yet feel able to join the statement, but which share the concern of the international community at these systemic human rights abuses. They also reiterated that the Council cannot refuse to address or discuss human rights violations against any individuals.

A group of 19 National Human Rights Institutions, including those from Korea, Senegal and South Africa, also delivered a strong statement on the importance of condemning human rights abuses based on sexual orientation and gender identity. These institutions are important for addressing the human rights violations – including investigating complaints, reviewing laws and policies, holding national inquiries and public education – to better protect and promote the rights of LGBTI people.

The Joint Statement supports what UN human rights bodies have repeatedly expressed: that no one should face rights violations because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. Since the UN Human Rights Committee’s landmark decision in 1994, affirming that sexual orientation is a protected ground against discrimination, United Nations experts have repeatedly acted against abuses that target LGBT people, including killings, torture, rape, violence, disappearances, and discrimination in many areas of life. UN treaty bodies have called on states to end discrimination in law and policy. The Human Rights Committee monitors State Parties’ compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Signatories to the Human Rights Council joint statement include: Albania, Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Central African Republic, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mexico, Micronesia, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nauru, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Palau, Panama, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Rwanda, Samoa, San Marino, Serbia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Tuvalu, Ukraine, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United States of America, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela, and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Reproduced from press release issued by:
ARC International, International Commission of Jurists, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, COC Nederland, CAL, GATE, IGLHRC, Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights, IDAHO - International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, Thailand's Sexual Diversity Network, Interactive Dialogue with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, Item 3, 16th session of the HRC.

Portugal and Lithuania and Trans Rights

Members of the European Parliament have reacted to recent developments in national laws affecting transgender people. On 16 March 2011, the new Law establishing procedures for change of name and sex in the civil register came into force in Portugal. The new law does not require divorce, sterilisation, hormonal treatment or surgery to officially change gender, although a medical diagnosis will remain necessary.

Rui Tavares, MEP from Portugal and Vice‑President of the LGBT Intergroup, said: “I am proud that colleagues in Lisbon ended the legal uncertainty surrounding gender reassignment procedures. Portugal keeps leading the way as a progressive country for LGBT people in Europe, and transgender citizens can now benefit from one of the most progressive laws in the world.”

In contrast, on 8 March 2011 Members of Parliament in Lithuania tabled a proposal to outlaw gender reassignment surgery. The bill proposed by Antanas Matulas MP, Chairman of the Committee on Health Affairs, would prohibit doctors and surgeons from performing gender reassignment operations. This would constitute an insurmountable obstacle for transgender persons in the country.

RaĆ¼l Romeva i Rueda MEP, Vice-President of the LGBT Intergroup, reacted: “Some Lithuanian Members of Parliament make it sound as if they are under siege by transgender people, when all they need is accessing essential healthcare to protect their human dignity. How the European Union can intervene is currently unclear, but we will use of our mandate to the greatest possible extent to stop this ban from becoming law.”

The LGBT Intergroup will continue monitoring developments in Lithuania regarding gender reassignment procedures, legal recognition of transgender people’s identities, and freedom of expression.

European Commission proposes property rights for all couples

BRUSSELS, 17 March 2011 — The European Commission has published proposals for the introduction of new EU regulations which would simplify property rights procedures for international couples.

The proposed rules will facilitate legal and administrative procedures in the field of property rights (real estate, banking, other possessions) for all international couples, whether they are married or in a civil partnership.

The proposed legislation comprises of one regulation for marriages, and one regulation for civil partnerships.

The Council of the European Union and the European Parliament will now need to examine the two proposals.

Michael Cashman MEP, Co-President of the Intergroup on LGBT Rights, met with the European Commission to ensure that the proposals will not lead to different rights for same-sex or different-sex couples. He commented:
“I welcome Viviane Reding’s proposals, which will make life easier for millions of international couples—including same-sex couples. Parliament and Council must now work on these two texts together, and consider the civil partnership regulation exactly the same as the marriage regulation. Proposing a single text would have sent a better signal, but these two proposals remain inextricably linked.”

Sophie in’t Veld MEP, Vice-President of the LGBT Intergroup, added:
“It’s crucial that the European area of freedom, security and justice be up and running as soon as feasible, and these proposals go in the right direction. Council and Parliament must now follow the Commission’s lead by making no difference between same- and different-sex couples, in
full respect of the Charter of Fundamental Rights. We will make sure these regulations bring about equality, both in the letter and in the spirit of the law.”

This initiative is part of the 2009-2014 Stockholm Programme for a European Area of Freedom, Security and Justice.