20 November – The Transgender Day of Remembrance

On 20 November 2008, the 9th Annual Transgender Day of Remembrance will be marked across the world and Europe. This Day was established following a murder of Rita Hester in 1998 and serves as a reminder of existing prejudice, hatred and discrimination against transgender people.

There is still a lot of ignorance about and discrimination against transgender people in Europe and this leads to their marginalisation and invisibility in society. Transsexual people often lose their jobs during or soon after they undergo gender reassignment procedures. They experience substantial discrimination in healthcare issues and suffer from poor legislation at national level as ILGA-Europe/Transgender Europe report published in April 2008 reveals (2). Gender non-conformity is still used as an excuse for harassment, violence, and even murder of transgender people– several such cases have been reported through the past year alone across Europe.

At the same time there are positive development and growing awareness and embracement of transgender people’s rights at European institutions level. The report on homophobia and sexual orientation discrimination in the EU by the EU Fundamental Rights Agency published in June 2008 identified serious gaps in national legislation in regards to transgender people’s rights (3).

Thomas Hammarberg, the Human Rights Commissioner of the Council of Europe, who earlier this month attended ILGA-Europe’s annual conference in Vienna, actively promotes the rights of transgender people and on 18 November organised a specific full day meeting with experts in the field addressing the issues and devise a work programme to tackle discrimination against transgender people. Patricia Prendiville, Executive Director of ILGA-Europe, was among the invited European stakeholders at that meeting. On 20 November Thomas Hammarberg also organises a workshop on homophobia for national human rights institutions and Patricia Prendiville is going to raise specifically the issues of transphobia and discrimination against transgender people.

Martin K.I Christensen, Co-Chair of ILGA-Europe Executive Board, said:

“ILGA-Europe and its allies have done a lot of work to advance the rights of transgender people in Europe. Obviously there is still a lot of work to be done and we are only beginning to properly address the issues and work towards solutions. We welcome the fact that more European institutions embrace the issue and take practical steps towards elimination of discrimination and prejudice of transgender people in Europe and look forward working with all the allies for full and unconditional rights for transgender people in Europe.”

Ends

For more information please contact
Juris Lavrikovs at + 32 2 609 54 16 / + 32 496 708 375

Notes for editors:

(1) ILGA-Europe is the European Region of the International Lesbian and Gay Association and works for equality and human rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Europe: www.ilga-europe.org

(2) Transgender EuroStudy: Legal Survey and Focus on the Transgender Experience of Health Care (April 2008) is available on www.ilga-europe.org

(3) „Homophobia and Discrimination on Grounds of Sexual Orientation in the EU Member States Part I – Legal Analysis“, available on http://fra.europa.eu

Juris Lavrikovs

Communications Manager

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