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Ombudsman for Equality: Clearer Prohibition of Discrimination of Gender Minorities in EU and Finland

Ombudsman for Equality: Clearer Prohibition of Discrimination of Gender Minorities in EU and Finland

The Ombudsman for Equality gave a speech at the European Parliament's LGBT Intergroup's seminar on 26 September about legislative challenges concerning the legal status of trans and intersex people.

- It is very important that EU legislation would come to include specific provisions that prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity and gender expression. The legal status of trans and intersex people can to a certain extent be protected through interpretations of current legislation and case law. It would, however, be a vast improvement to their legal protection, if specific prohibitions of discrimination concerning them would be included in EU law, the Ombudsman stressed.


- EU laws are particularly important to the legal protection of gender minorities, because they are vulnerable to discrimination and in a disadvantaged position to fight for their own rights in each

Member State separately. For them the minimum protection provided by EU legislation becomes in practice easily the maximum protection they receive. In addition to clear prohibition of discrimination, trans and intersex people's equality must be actively promoted, both at the EU level and in each Member State.

In securing the legal status of gender minorities in Finland, the Finnish Parliament and courts have come to take the stand, based on the EU Court of Justice's decisions, that the scope of the prohibition of discrimination on the basis of sex also extends to those who undergo gender reassignment. According to the Equality Ombudsman's interpretation of the Constitution, the Equality Act can be widely applied to all people belonging to gender minorities.

In 2010 the Finnish Parliament decided that provisions concerning gender minorities must be included in the Equality Act. The Act's amendment process has in this respect proceeded to a government draft proposal stage. It is proposed that the Act would include provisions to prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity and gender expression. The proposal also includes a provision for the promotion of gender minorities' equal status.

A new report produced by the European Commission on the discrimination of trans and intersex people in the EU and its Member States was presented at the European Parliament's LGBT Intergroup's Trans and intersex issues - Challenges for EU law seminar.

The European Commission report: Trans and intersex people. Discrimination on the grounds of sex, gender identity and gender expression (2012)

In spring 2012 the Equality Ombudsman published a report on the status of gender minorities in Finnish legislation and official practices: Selvitys sukupuolivähemmistöjen asemasta

26.09.2012