Pink News: Monday 14 July 2014
Jersey Evening Post: Monday 14 July 2014:
Pink News: Monday 14 July 2014
Jersey Evening Post: Monday 14 July 2014:
On Tuesday 8 July 2014, the States of Jersey approved an amendment by Senator Ian le Marquand to the proposition to allow same-sex marriage that had been brought by Deputy Sam Mezec. The amendment effectively stalled the progress towards equal marriage in Jersey by making it subject to a consultation by the Chief Minister, Senator Ian Gorst. Apparently, many of those who voted for the amendment did so because of the immoderate language being used by supporters of the original bill. The words “homophobia” and “homophobic” were used on more than one occasion to describe others with opposing views.
On the very same day, Trans* Jersey received two emails from trans* islanders, independently, reporting that they had been the victims of abuse and assault. In both cases, they were physically at risk of injury. In both cases, the attacks were simply because the victims were trans*. As you can imagine, Tuesday was not a good day for Trans* Jersey.
However, the two reports put the States’ debate into perspective and meant that we did not vent our disappointment over the States’ decision by calling-out politicians on Facebook or Twitter as some did. Apart from acknowledging that there might have been any number of reasons why a States’ member voted against same-sex marriage, such as feeling ill-prepared for the debate, there is another reason why we should be moderate in our response to setbacks in the struggle for equal marriage.
Nobody in the States’ chamber on Tuesday was homophobic. Those who have been the victims of homophobia, transphobia or biphobia know it when they see it. *Phobia isn’t an off-colour joke or a misuse of a pronoun or a disagreement over equal marriage. It is a deep-seated hatred of LGBT people that makes a person capable of acts of verbal or physical cruelty to the target of his or her hate. Until you have been the victim of a hate crime, you cannot know *phobia. There is something in the eyes, something in the tone of voice, that LGBT people recognise as *phobic. It’s when the adrenalin starts pumping and the body goes into fight or flight mode.
When a white, heterosexual, male calls people who don’t share his political view on same-sex marriage “homophobic”, he needs to be very careful. Overuse and misuse of any word can remove its power. Homophobia, transphobia and biphobia are important words to the LGBT community for they are they only way we have of describing the most heinous of crimes against us. These words must not be cheapened by those who are unlikely ever to be the target of a homophobic, transphobic or biphobic attack.
Trans* Jersey would like to say to our allies: thank you for your support, thank you for fighting for equality for us, thank you for being allies, but please be careful of the language that you use when you speak on our behalf.
And then, on Saturday 12 July 2014, this happened. Estimates of the number of people who turned out vary but there were certainly hundreds, possibly 1,000 people there. King Street was filled with love, pride and lots of rainbows for what was Jersey’s first ever LGBTQ rights march or equality rally or pride parade. In the end, nobody was sure what it was and, actually, it didn’t seem to matter. We were there to show that we exist. Every human population has an LGBT community. Visible or forced underground, it is there. Our detractors conveniently forget that fact but, sometimes, we do too and when we do, even an island of 9 miles by 5 miles where “everyone knows everyone”, can seem like a lonely place. Saturday was about reminding ourselves that we aren’t alone, that there are others like us, others who also share our desire for equality.
Rallies often don’t accomplish much but this one felt different. This one felt like a moment of change. Maybe because, during the week, the feelings of anger towards the States for their decision dissipated and were replaced with a feeling of solidarity. Trans* Jersey thanks the organisers of Saturday’s event for being the catalyst that brought us all together in Liberation Square. Every LGBT person in Jersey now knows, for sure, that there is a community here to which they belong and who will stand up for their beliefs in a fair and equal society.
Pink News: Wednesday 9 July 2014
Jersey Evening Post: Wednesday 9 July 2014:
Trans* Jersey is very disappointed by the decision of the States of Jersey to vote in favour of Senator Ian Le Marquand’s amendment to require the Chief Minister consult on any change in the law to allow same-sex marriage in Jersey.
Trans* Jersey’s founder, Vic Tanner Davy, said: “We recognise that, as an issue, this is not a high priority for the majority of States members personally. As a result, it was clear that a number of States members had not done their homework and felt ill-prepared to vote on the matter. This was demonstrated most clearly by those concerned about the ‘unintended consequences’ of allowing equal marriage. Anyone who has studied the issue in detail will know that there are no ‘unintended consequences’ to equal marriage. We know that, once States members have had a chance to do their research over the summer, any concerns they may have will be put to bed and equal marriage will go forward.
“Today was a wake-up call to States members that they need to do their homework and come back to the chamber in full possession of the facts about why the island’s LGBT community needs this legislation. This is not a proposition that is going to go away and it is one on which members need to be clear where they stand as it will be an election issue in the autumn.”
This is the full version of Liberate‘s excellent letter to all members of the States of Jersey on the subject of Deputy Sam Mézec’s proposition:
I write on behalf of LIBERATE in support of Deputy Sam Mézec’s proposition lodged at the States Greffe on Wednesday 28 May 2014 petitioning the States of Jersey to introduce equal marriage in the Bailiwick of Jersey.
LIBERATE is the first Channel Island charity to support the islands’ Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning Community (LGBTQ).
Who we are
Liberate is an inclusive Group, which welcomes people irrespective of sexual orientation, gender identity, religious belief, race, gender or disability. We are a local charity and were founded on 15 February 2014 in Guernsey.
Liberate is made up of a virtual rainbow of people from every different gender and sexual identity you could possibly think of. With such a diverse background we can operate on many different levels as we all bring something different to the group.
Our vision is simple. We believe in a Fair & Equal society, where everyone is born equal and free, and treated with dignity and respect no matter what their gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, belief or race.
Article 1 of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights states: “All people are born free & equal in dignity and rights”.
Children do not know racism, sexism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, unless they are taught it and government has a responsibility to ensure that it sends a clear message to communities that discrimination in all its forms is not acceptable.
The purpose of Liberate is to educate and inform on a wide range of issues and to support those who identify as LGBTQ, their families and friends.
We campaign to reform some of Guernsey’s policies and laws to ensure that LGBTQ people can enjoy the same freedoms as everyone else in the Bailiwick of Guernsey. We also lend our support to the LGBTQ community in Jersey and are affiliated to Trans*Jersey.
We question social attitudes and behaviours which discriminate against LGBTQ people, and offer advice and help in tackling homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, etc.
We will petition and work with government to:
Since our website www.liberate.gg was launched we have had over 1,000 signatures in support of equal marriage in the islands. We have also achieved one of our aims in Guernsey of having transgender reassignment surgery funded by the States of Guernsey. We also:
The Free & Equal Campaign
The United Nations Human Rights Commission recently launched its Free & Equal Campaign which is partly aimed at world governments to ensure that they do not actively discriminate through legislation and policy, as well as encouraging the LGBTQ community to speak out and have a voice.
The LGBTQ community have historically been persecuted, tortured and executed. Indeed 81 countries still classify homosexuality as a criminal offence. It is only in recent history that it was decriminalised in our society, and not until the early 1990’s that the World Health Organisation declassified homosexuality as a disease. We hope that you can therefore appreciate how difficult it is for the LGBTQ community to be visible and speak out against social injustice.
Deputy Mézec’s Proposition
Deputy Mézec’s proposition is an important step for Jersey in ensuring that each and every one of its citizens are free and equal in dignity and rights.
Jersey recently made an important step in terms of tackling discrimination with the introduction of its Discrimination Law. We see the introduction of equal marriage in Jersey as a natural progressive step towards that goal. Failure to do so will deny approximately 10% of the population the right to marry, and be totally at odds with Jersey’s current social policy in terms of discrimination.
Guernsey’s Chief Minister has already assured LIBERATE that he will bring a report to the States of Guernsey before the end of this political term proposing the introduction of a Union Civile for all couples who wish to marry. Under the proposed law, it will be the choice of those getting married whether they chose to then have a blessing or humanist celebration.
We hope Jersey does the same.
The England and Wales Equal Marriage Act caused problems for transgender people over the so-called Spousal Veto. It allows their spouse to refuse to permit them to have a Gender Reassignment Certificate, which would convert the marriage from opposite-sex to same-sex. We prefer the Scottish Same Sex Marriage Law of 2014 model which overcomes that “veto”.
Winning Hearts and Minds
LIBERATE acknowledges that changing laws and policies is only part of the solution to changing societal attitudes towards the LGBTQ community.
Together we must win the hearts and minds of those who through ignorance, intolerance, and hatred, discriminate against various sections of our community. It is that intolerance which can divide families, friends and colleagues, and damage the very fabric of our society, with consequential harm to individuals and cost to government and other third party agencies. The LGBTQ community is widely acknowledged to be twice at risk of harm of anxiety, depression, substance misuse, self harm and suicide because of the affects that prejudicial attitudes have.
Changing laws and policies sends out a very clear signal to society of what is acceptable and what behaviours are not.
Our commitment to the States of Jersey is that we will work and co-operate with government locally in terms of ensuring that the universal principle of fairness and equality for all applies within our islands. Whether it be in changing laws and policies, or helping States departments in developing social policy strategies which promote equality and inclusion and celebrate the importance of diversity.
We ask you to vote “Pour” in favour of Deputy Mézec’s proposition.
 Including an estimated 100,000 LGBTQ people who were victims of the Nazi Holocaust.
The JEP report from Tuesday 17 June 2014:
Listen again on Radio Jersey (from 6 July 2014, timecode 42:00)
Listen again on Radio Jersey (from 27 June 2014, timecode 38:00)
Letter to the Jersey Evening Post on 13 June 2014:
Why civil partnerships do not make for equal marriage
For those who think that they were made some kind of promise by the gay community that civil partnerships would be enough to ensure equality, I can confirm that no such promise was made by the trans community who have always known that civil partnerships do not provide true equality. As Jersey law stands, a person in a marriage or civil partnership who undergoes gender reassignment whilst still in that union is severely discriminated against.
A key part of a transgender person’s journey is acquiring their gender recognition certificate (”GRC”) after two years of living as their true gender. It is a legal document that means for all purposes you are the gender you present. It enables a trans person to have all legal documents amended, including their birth certificate. It also provides a degree of privacy protection for the trans person because it is an offence under the Gender Recogntion (Jersey) Law to “out” someone in possession of a GRC, for example, when giving an employment reference.
Under current Jersey legislation, at the point at which a trans person in a marriage or civil partnership applies for their GRC, they are forced to dissolve their union. Having done so, they are then expected to re-make their union using the vehicle appropriate to their gender and the gender of their spouse. The choice for transgender individuals in this situation is clear: either, do not apply for your GRC and continue having your official documents “out” you; or, change your official documents at the cost of losing your legal ties to your family.
Anyone who has been through a divorce will know that not only are there costs involved, emotional and financial, but also that a divorce immediately stops the continuation of joint arrangements, such as pension provisions, insurance policies and wills, some of which cannot be re-started without severe penalty. And, if the union has produced children, the situation gets even more complicated. I think that all sides of the marriage argument would agree that nobody should be forced to go through a divorce.
In 2006, the International Commission of Jurists and the International Service for Human Rights developed a set of international legal principles on the application of international law to human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity. These were called the Yogyakarta Principles and, whilst not adopted as an international standard, are cited by UN bodies and national courts, and many governments have made them a guiding tool for defining their policies in the matter. The European Commissioner for Human Rights has endorsed the Yogyakarta Principles, in particular principle number 3, and considers them an important tool for identifying the obligations of states to respect, protect and fulfil the human rights of all persons, regardless of their gender identity.
Yogyakarta Principle number 3 states that, “Each person’s self-defined sexual orientation and gender identity is integral to their personality and is one of the most basic aspects of self-determination, dignity and freedom… No status, such as marriage or parenthood, may be invoked as such to prevent the legal recognition of a person’s gender identity.”
Whilst legislation exists that gives opposite-sex couples a different piece of paper from same-sex couples, there will always be an inequality at the heart of the island’s laws. Jersey is proudly bringing in the first piece of anti-discrimination legislation later this year and, yet, enshrined within its laws is a nasty little “gotcha” that discriminates against a person in a marriage or civil partnership who transitions. If Jersey is serious about improving its human rights credentials on the world stage, it needs to adopt the Yogyakarta Principles as an internationally recognised model of best practice and address anomalies within its legislation such as this.
This is why Trans* Jersey is supporting Guernsey’s proposition for a Union Civile that requires all couples, regardless of gender, to wed in a civil ceremony that registers the union for legal purposes. Having done the legal part, couples who then wish to seek a church service aligned to their religious beliefs regarding marriage can do so. This solves the argument over the definition of marriage that exercises religious and secular groups, and it enables a transgender person to acquire their GRC and alter the gender on their Union Civile certificate without having to divorce. It is an elegantly simple solution to the problem and one that we hope Jersey will also propose, debate and pass.
This week Guernsey moved a step closer to equal marriage with a clever proposal for a Union Civile law that would remove religion from laws related to marriage. You can read more about the story here or visit Liberate’s website for more information about the work they have been doing.
The proposed law would mean that all those who wanted to marry would do so in a civil ceremony. Thus, in one bold stroke, all marriages between two people, irrespective of their sex or gender, would be equal in Guernsey. The ability to legally marry a couple would be removed from religious organisations, which would also remove the knotty question for people of faith as to whether their church should “allow” same-sex marriage.
Under the proposal, there would be nothing to stop a couple celebrating their wedding through a religious service after they had legally tied the knot civilly. Under current EU legislation, there is no means by which a religious organisation could be forced to offer a celebratory service to a same-sex couple if it is against their religious beliefs. This should satisfy the churches that the legislation does not stop them from celebrating marriages as they understand them in the way that they wish.
Trans* Jersey stated that we would be in favour of adopting the Scottish model for same-sex marriage legislation, but this new development from Guernsey is even better. It does away with the UK system of two laws, one for opposite-sex couples and one for same-sex couples, in favour of one law for everyone.
We are in favour of adopting Guernsey’s proposal here in Jersey as it would solve the problem that trans people have when they transition within a marriage. Under Guernsey’s proposal, the marriage stays intact and the transition has no effect on its status. This also resolves the problem, perceived by some, that a person’s transition alters or diminishes the partnership somehow. Under this proposal, there is no alteration of the partnership and, therefore, the spouse has no reason to require a veto to stop their partner’s transition.
Deputy Sam Mezec lodged a proposition with the States of Jersey this week to debate same-sex marriage in July. We will have to wait for more news on what Jersey’s proposed legislation will look like, but Trans* Jersey hopes that it will resemble Guernsey’s forward-thinking and elegantly simple proposal.
Trans* Jersey’s manifesto defines the problems faced by transgender, transsexual, genderqueer, androgynous, bigender and intersex Jersey residents in 2014 and explains what actions we intend to take to address these issues.
Trans* Jersey believes that the island’s trans population is being patchily served by GPs and the States of Jersey Health and Social Services (“H&SS”) Department. This is due to the lack of clear guidelines for healthcare professionals working with trans patients. Individual clinicians within the H&SS Department are not seen to be at fault and, once the H&SS Department has been accessed, experiences of care have been good to excellent, largely through the efforts of the clinician acting on their own initiative. However, the initial route into healthcare for trans patients is unclear. The evidence suggests that the quality of healthcare provided is also influenced by the tenacity and perseverance of the trans individual being treated.
Trans* Jersey supports the calls by trans* organisations in the UK that the process for procuring a gender recognition certificate (“GRC”) needs revision. The Gender Recognition (Jersey) Law 2010 allows for a GRC from a recognised jurisdiction to be passed in the Royal Court. Any revisions that happen to the UK Gender Recognition Act 2004 as a result of the consultation happening with trans* organisations will, therefore, directly affect trans islanders. At present, Jersey has no mechanism by which to issue a GRC. However, this may change if trans* organisations within the UK are successful in calling for the Gender Recognition Act to be scrapped and for the issuance of a GRC to be an administrative process driven by the trans individual.
Trans* Jersey is committed to ensuring that all States of Jersey legislation that directly affects trans* islanders is scrutinised and responded to on behalf of the Jersey trans* community in order to safeguard our human rights. Trans* Jersey is currently preparing a response to both the States of Jersey consultation on sex discrimination and the imminent debate on equal marriage. Trans* Jersey will also be reviewing all legislation in force to ensure that there are no revisions that need to be called for.
Trans* Jersey believes that equal marriage legislation is essential to ensure that trans islanders are not discriminated against, and that any equal marriage law introduced in Jersey should not contain the so-called Spousal Veto. Trans islanders who are married or in a civil partnership at the time of their transition have no option currently but to get divorced before they can acquire a full GRC. On the granting of a full GRC, the couple may formalise their partnership again by having another wedding ceremony. This situation is patently in violation of all human rights.
Trans* Jersey believes that education is the key to many of the issues faced by trans* individuals in society and is therefore committed to providing opportunities and resources to cisgender islanders in order that they can learn more about the trans* population. In the coming months, Trans* Jersey will be seeking conversations with private schools and the States of Jersey Education, Sport and Culture (“ES&C”) Department about including trans* issues within the sex education curriculum.
These are not the only issues faced by trans* individuals in Jersey, but they are the most important ones to be addressed. We are a small group with no financial backing. This manifesto is, therefore, necessarily realistic in its aims. It is not possible to hit all targets at once so we are being selective. Once progress has been made on these issues, we can turn our attention to other areas where reform is needed.
You can download the complete manifesto as a pdf here.
The following is taken from a paper produced in May 2014 by the UK charity, GIRES. It is a useful summary of the issues facing trans* citizens and the groups working with them for equality.
The numbers of transgender people presenting for medical treatment is increasing by 20% pa. This figure rises to 50% for young people. EHRC estimates that 1% of the population fall under the protected characteristic of gender reassignment.
Transgender people are the victims of unequal treatment under the law. This sets a dreadful example and fuels the discriminatory and sometimes violent and abusive treatment experienced by many trans people.
The current government has chosen to ignore a growing cohort of younger people who do not identify with the gender binary. Many such people have no protection under the 2010 Equality Act and have no mechanism to get appropriate ID. In effect they are being excluded from Society.
Surely in 2015 equality and enjoyment of full Human Rights shouldbe an entitlement of all?
A course of action is requested to achieve the following end state:
(a) having no legislation permitting discrimination on the grounds of gender identity or non gender binary identification;
(b) truly equal marriage;
(c) abolition of the 2004 Gender Recognition Act and new processes for gaining appropriate ID;
(d) education for younger people to eliminate prejudice in the longer term; and
(e) new medical treatment models to cope with the rapidly increasing numbers presenting for treatment.
Government must come to realise that people cannot be categorised into neat boxes and its obsession in trying to do so is making life very difficult for many!
A summary of requested actions is given below. [More detail on each section can be found in separate posts]:
1. Legislative revisions [More detail on this can be found here]
Equality Act 2010: Remove any rights to legally discriminate against transgender people. Grant protections to those who do not fit into the gender binary.
Gender Recognition Act 2004: Trans people find the process of having their assertions of gender incongruence checked for truth by the Gender Recognition Panel a degrading and patronising (and also expensive and protracted) process. The Act was introduced to address the lack of same sex marriage in the UK and is no longer relevant, and indeed divisive. Given that gender related discrimination is no longer permitted in the UK, a legal change of gender on birth certificates should be a self driven administrative process.
Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013: The Spousal Veto must be removed if this remains in the Act when the trans marriage regulations are passed later in 2014. The marriages of couples who were forced to annul and subsequently formed civil partnerships should be reinstated. Government assertions “that the past cannot be rewritten” are hollow given that birth certificates, and soon marriage certificates, can now be altered.
Matrimonial Causes Act 1973: Section 12(h) (non disclosure of gender history) must be withdrawn. Under this provision trans people are singled out for treatment not applied to any other group. Furthermore, as one does not have to disclose (for example) that one is a convicted murderer or married to another) before having sex, why can one be imprisoned for not doing so if one has a trans history?
Application of EU law to pension claimants: Despite very clear and well established superior European Court of Justice case law, the Department of Work and Pensions, supported by some but not all Courts, continues to act unlawfully towards some transgender pension claimants.
2. Non gender binary issues [More detail on this can be found here]
Marriage laws: Gendered language in ceremonies should be optional.
Passports: The introduction of the X marker on passports is long overdue. The conclusion of a recent Passport Office report on this topic was that there is no demand for X markers contradicted the evidence it received.
Birth Certificates: As part of the new provisions following the Gender Recognition Act a mechanism should be introduced to allow the sex classification to be removed or changed or an “X” category added.GIRES encourages direct communication with the appropriate communities.
3. Education [More detail on this can be found here]
It is the experience of GIRES that many in government do not understand the difference between sexual orientation and gender identity. This is vividly demonstrated by married trans people and their spouses “being shoehorned into arrangements for gay and lesbian people” (evidence: Commons Committee Stage, Same Sex Marriage Bill). However, the route to combating transphobia longer term is to introduce awareness training on diversity, early in the education process, in schools.
4. Medical treatment of trans people [More detail on this can be found here]
Despite some recent progress in improved treatment protocols, the growing numbers presenting for medical help are now overwhelming the specialist clinics. Although gender dysphoria is no longer accepted as a psychiatric condition, treatment generally remains under the control of specialist clinics led by psychiatrists. Inappropriate treatment and increasing delays are harming transgender people. New treatment models must be implemented to ensure timely and flexible treatment packages that make best use of the funds available.
Trans* Jersey’s response to the proposals in GIRES’ report
Because so much of Jersey’s transgender and transsexual population’s experience is as a result of having treatment in the UK or acquiring their gender recognition certificate from the UK, these issues affect us, too. Trans* Jersey, therefore, wholly supports the aims and proposals of GIRES and the other trans* organisations working to reform the law in the UK.
To find out more about how Jersey trans* individuals are affected by each of the four proposals listed above, click on the links to more detail where we outline the proposed change in greater depth and explain how we would like to see the States of Jersey tackle these issues.