Ombudsman for Equality: the new Parliament must safeguard the status of gender minorities

Ombudsman for Equality: the new Parliament must safeguard the status of gender minorities

Gender minorities continue to struggle to achieve equality and human rights in Finland and in Europe. This was the conclusion of the seminar Equality and Human Rights of Gender Minorities, organised on Thursday by the Ombudsman for Equality.

The seminar was organised as the result of an increasing need for topical information on gender minorities and the European human rights situation. Gender minorities refers to trans people (among others transgender and transvestite individuals) and intersex people. Their discrimination and unrealised rights have recently been the subject of wide debate in Europe, including in the Council of Europe and in the European Union.

Speakers at the seminar included Adviser Lauri Sivonen from the Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe; Tiia Aarnipuu, gender researcher and non-fiction writer; Antti Karanki, chair of association for transgender and intersex individuals Trasek ry; Minna-Maaria Lax, chair of transvestite association DreamwearClub ry; and Secretary General Aija Salo from LGBT rights organisation Seta ry.

According to the Ombudsman for Equality the greatest problem is that there continue to be no statutory provisions specifically safeguarding the position of gender minorities. It would now appear that some progress is being made in this respect: in spring 2011 the previous Parliament approved the Report on Gender Equality and created the assignment to include gender minorities in the Equality Act.

The Ombudsman has insisted that the Equality Act be amended to include provisions on the protection of gender minorities against discrimination and the promotion of their equality in society. It is the Ombudsman's opinion that gender minorities must be recognised in the Act so that these provisions apply to all trans people and intersex people.