Activists have sharply criticized the passage of a bill in the Israeli Knesset that prevents gay couples from using surrogates.The Jerusalem Post reported the bill passed on Wednesday by a 59-52 vote.
Media reports indicate the bill allows lesbian couples to use surrogates, but it does not include men who are in same-sex relationships. A Wider Bridge, a U.S.-based organization that says it is “dedicating to supporting LGBTQ communities in Israel,” on Thursday said gay couples and single men could face up to three years in prison if they try to use a surrogate in Israel.
Hundreds of LGBTI activists marched through the streets of Tel Aviv on Thursday to protest the bill’s passage. Businesses have also said their employees can participate in a strike against the measure that is scheduled to take place on Sunday.
The Aguda, the Israeli National LGBT Task Force, is supporting the strike.
“The LGBTQ community in Israel is calling you to join our protest,” it wrote on its Facebook page. “In Israel today, lesbian women cannot register their children to (sic) school, transgenders are stabbed on the streets. LGBTQ teens are running into homophobia every day in schools.”
“The Knesset…has recently passed laws that threaten equality and basic human rights,” it adds. “We cannot sit quietly anymore and continue living life like this.”
A Wider Bridge Executive Director Tyler Gregory in his group’s statement described the bill’s passage as a “worrisome development.”
“LGBTQ people in Israel face mounting odds, something made clearer after the Knesset’s passage of the discriminatory legislation last night, despite fierce opposition from Israel’s LGBTQ communities and allies, and words of support from the prime minister,” he said. “The ability of the ultra-orthodox parties within the government to force a vote on anti-gay legislation is yet another instance of the Israeli government highlighting its support of LGBTQ rights abroad while harming LGBTQ people at home by prioritizing coalition politics over people’s lives.”
Members of Colectivo Unidad Color Rosa, an LGBTI advocacy group in the Honduran city of San Pedro Sula, on July 11 were sewing a transgender Pride flag for an upcoming march. On the wall behind them were the pictures of 19 local activists and community members who have been killed over the last decade.“You can be killed at any moment in this extremely violent country,” a lesbian activist told the Washington Blade during an interview with three others affiliated with Colectivo Unidad Color Rosa who identify themselves as transsexual women.
Honduras has one of the world’s highest per capita murder rates because of violence that is frequently associated with gangs and drug traffickers. Violence and discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation remains commonplace in the Central American country that borders Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua.
One of the activists with whom the Blade spoke at Colectivo Unidad Color Rosa has previously received death threats.
She and her three colleagues asked the Blade not to publish their names or take their pictures because of concerns over their personal safety. One of activists — a trans woman — said “nothing has changed” in San Pedro Sula since the Blade last reported from the city in February 2017.
“What has increased and has changed is migration,” she said. “There are more trans girls migrating from the country.”
Trans women ‘always have poverty, insecurity’
The activists spoke with the Blade against lingering outrage over President Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy, which included the separation of migrant children from their parents once they entered the U.S.
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen last week met with the foreign ministers of Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico in Guatemala City. She announced the creation of an office within her agency that will advise their governments about the reunification of migrant children who have been separated from their parents.
The activists with whom the Blade spoke said violence and a lack of economic opportunities are the primary reasons that prompt lesbian, gay, bisexual, intersex and especially trans Hondurans to leave the country.
Statistics from Cattrachas, a lesbian feminist network that is based in the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa, indicate 15 people have been reported killed in the country so far this year because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
A gay Honduran man seeking asylum in Mexico told the Blade on Tuesday during an interview outside a refugee center in Mexico City that he fled San Pedro Sula earlier this year after gang members attacked him. The man said the gang members also raped his friend before they killed her in front of him.
“The situation therefore never changes for the community,” said the trans activist in San Pedro Sula who has previously received death threats. “We always have poverty, insecurity for trans girls. This is the main reason for migrating.”
A newsstand in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, on July 10, 2018, sells a Honduran newspaper with a front page devoted to a shootout between police officers and gang members in a San Pedro Sula suburb that left a police officer and two suspected gang members dead. The newspaper also notes the 2018 World Cup semi-final game between France and Belgium (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)
Trans woman who died in ICE custody ‘represented a struggle’
The death of Roxana Hernández — a trans Honduran woman with HIV who died at a New Mexico hospital on May 25 while in ICE custody — sparked outrage among advocates in Honduras and in the U.S.
Hernández, who was from the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa, was in San Pedro Sula before she joined a 300-person caravan that traveled to the U.S. border. U.S. Customs and Border Protection took her into custody on May 9 when she asked for asylum at the San Ysidro Port of Entry near San Diego.
Hernández’s picture is among the 19 that are on the wall at Colectivo Unidad Color Rosa’s offices. The four activists with whom the Blade spoke were quick to point out other trans Hondurans have also been killed after leaving the country.
“Roxana’s case is being politicized at the moment,” said the lesbian activist. “It is being politicized in the sense that she represented a struggle when we were looking for martyred colleagues.”
“Roxana became a colleague as a result,” she added. “There are many other colleagues as well.”
Activist: Honduras government has no socio-economic plan
Honduran first lady Ana García earlier this month visited a detention center in McAllen, Texas, after Trump issued an executive order that ended the separation of migrant children from their parents. CNN reported García urged Hondurans to remain in the country and “let’s look for solutions to support you.”
García on June 19 made a similar plea on her Twitter page.
“Don’t migrate, don’t risk the lives of your children on that route,” she said. “Avoid traumas because with the U.S. ‘zero tolerance’ policy, you will be separated from your little ones when you arrive illegally.”
More than 30 peopled died in violent protests that took place across the country after President Juan Orlando Hernández’s disputed re-election last November. The activists in San Pedro Sula with whom the Blade spoke said it is possible the Honduran government has not explicitly criticized Trump’s immigration policy because it does not want to lose U.S. aid.
The U.S. Agency for International Development reports Honduras received $127,506,634 in U.S. foreign aid in fiscal year 2016. Full figures from fiscal years 2017 and 2018 are not yet available.
A flyer taped to a storefront in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, on July 10, 2018, urges customers to apply for a U.S. visa. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)
The lesbian activist with whom the Blade spoke said the Honduran government has not implemented a socio-economic plan “to benefit the population.”She said the government has increased funding of the country’s Military and National Police, which have been accused of human rights violations. The lesbian activist also told the Blade a lack of legal protections for trans Hondurans and their inability to legally change the name and gender on their ID cards has also made them increasingly vulnerable to discrimination and violence.
Graffiti on a wall in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, equates the police to rapists and murderers. Activists in the Honduran city insist police officers routinely target transgender women and other members of the
LGBTI community. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)
One of the trans activists noted the Honduran government “does not have a plan” to help LGBTI migrants. U.S. Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) last month told the Blade after he and other members of Congress traveled to South Texas there are no policies in place that specifically address the needs of LGBTI migrant children who the Trump administration separated from their parents.All four of the activists with whom the Blade spoke said they have no plans to leave Honduras in spite of the rampant violence and discrimination that exists in their country.
One of the trans activists told the Blade she traveled to Mexico City three years ago to undergo cosmetic surgery. She said she returned to Honduras because her experience in the Mexican capital was “very ugly.”
The lesbian activist said she will stay in Honduras because she has “stability.”
“I would think about leaving, about migrating, if I didn’t have the stability that I have,” she added.
A new United Nations report on violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity has found that bi women are more at risk from sexual violence.
The report was presented at the 38th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva this month.
It also found that LGBTQ people are generally more at risk of physical and sexual violence then their heterosexual counterparts.
The report claims: ‘Research reveals that bisexual persons are more prone than lesbian or gay persons to experience intimate partner violence, with shocking rates of intimate partner violence, domestic violence, rape, and sexual assault.’
It furthermore notes: ‘Trans and gender non-conforming persons, especially when they are persons of color, belong to ethnic minorities or are migrants, living with HIV, or sex workers, are particularly at risk of violence, including of killing, beatings, mutilation, rape, and other forms of abuse and maltreatment.’
Some 69% of bi woman respondents said they have been raped or suffered physical violence and/or stalking from a partner. The number for bi men is 37%.
Meanwhile, 698,000 LGBTQ respondents said they had undergone conversion therapy, half of whom while they were teenagers.
Another statistic to emerge from the report is that 2,609 trans and gender non-confirming people have been murdered across 71 countries between 2008 and 2017. However, the number is believed to be much higher due to a lack of accurate data.
Cristina Palma, from Australia, married her partner Mariama Diallo in France in 2016, having met in Sydney 15 years ago.
The couple moved to Bulgaria together shortly afterwards. However, Palma’s application to continue her residency in the country was rejected in 2017.Palma then started a lawsuit over the refusal of her residency, which she won on June 29, when the Sofia court ruled in her favour.
It’s believed to be the first time Bulgaria – a country where gay marriage and same-sex adoption remains illegal – has recognised the rights of a same-sex married couple in a case like this.
In January 2018, the European Court of Justice ruled that all EU nations have to recognise the rights of same-sex spouses, even if the government has not legalised equal marriage.
The historic case has been lauded by LGBT+ rights campaigners in the country.
Sofia Pride, which was held last month, posted on Facebook: “In a historic decision published on 29 June 2018, the Sofia City Administrative Court ruled in favour of a same-sex couple – Cristina and Mariama – who fought for their right to reside as a married couple in Bulgaria!
“This ruling is of paramount importance for us as a community because it gives hope to all same-sex couples, regardless of their citizenship, that their families will be recognized in Bulgaria!”
Palma, meanwhile, posted on Twitter: “We are part of making History in the #LGBT movement in Bulgaria.”
In an open letter addressed to the organisers of Sofia Pride opposition leader Korneliya Ninova turned down the invite to attend the event in the nation’s capital on June 8.
The Bulgarian Socialist Party is the main opposition party in the country, and is considered more liberal than the right-wing GERB, which stands for Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria, which is currently in power.
The BSP has the biggest membership base of all political parties in Bulgaria, with 105,000 members as of 2016.
“Thank you for your invitation towards me and all members of our team to get involved on Sofia Pride 2018,” Ninova wrote in an open letter to the chair of the Sofia Pride organisational committee.
“As far as your message towards me, accept my respect for LGBT people, but I also trust you will respect differences of opinion. Mine is the same as the 75 percent of Bulgarians, which you refer to in your letter.
“I am against same-sex marriages and the ability of same-sex people to adopt children. Of course, this is a personal position, which does not bind anyone else.”
Today, just ahead of tomorrow’s Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki, HRC projected an enormous message onto the Presidential Palace in Helsinki demanding that Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin immediately end the ongoing anti-LGBTQ crimes against humanity occurring in the Russian republic of Chechnya.
For more than 15 months, Donald Trump and his administration have refused to publicly condemn the systematic torture, abuse, and murder of LGBTQ people occurring in Chechnya as Vladimir Putin has licensed the violence to continue. More than a 100 LGBTQ people have been rounded up, tortured, and abused — and as many as 20 have been murdered.
HRC’s message was projected onto the side of the Presidential Palace where the delegations and press corps are gathering for Monday’s summit.
“Trump has unconscionably turned a blind eye to some of the worst anti-LGBTQ atrocities in a generation, including monstrous attacks on gay and bisexual men in Chechnya,” said Ty Cobb, Director of HRC Global. “HRC is here in Helsinki to demand Donald Trump end his deafening silence, publicly condemn these Chechen crimes against humanity, and call on Putin to investigate and bring the perpetrators to justice.”
A gay couple were publicly flogged in the Aceh province of Indonesia earlier today.
The two men were flogged 80 times for having gay sex, which is forbidden under local Muslim law.
In total, 15 people were publicly punished for “inappropriate behaviour,” including infractions such as drinking or selling alcohol and showing affection in public.
While Indonesia has the biggest Muslim population in the world, the Aceh province is the only province in the country to implement Sharia law.The province officials pledged to stop public demonstrations of the practice after another case of public flogging drew international outrage last year, however, the floggings remain.
According to AFP, the two men were the second gay couple to endure the punishment this year. Public flogging is a common occurrence in the region. It covers all sorts of crimes, including gambling, sex out of wedlock and the consumption of alcohol.
1,000 bystanders watched and encouraged the men carrying out the punishment, asking them to “flog them harder.” This included tourists from Malaysia.
According to Human Rights Watch, the local Sharia law “empowers members of the public as well as the special Sharia police to publicly identify and detain anyone suspected of violating its rules.”
A gay couple aged 20 and 23, were found guilty of having broken sharia rules in conservative Aceh province in 2017. (CHAIDEER MAHYUDDIN/AFP/Getty)
An earlier case of public flogging outraged the international community in 2017. Two young men had been sentenced to received 85 floggings. Their flat was raided by vigilantes.
Human Rights Watch then called for Aceh to abandon Sharia law and for Indonesia’s President Jokowi Widodo to condemn the practice.
“The clock is ticking for Jokowi to demonstrate that his support of equal rights for all is not empty rhetoric. He needs to start by protecting these two young men from torture,” said Human Rights Watch’s deputy Asia director.
“Jokowi needs to be clear to Aceh’s authorities that flogging is torture for which they will be held to account,” he added.
The two men, respectively 20 and 23 years old, were still flogged in public. It was the first time that gay men were flogged for having consensual sex in Indonesia.
Widodo said he was a supporter of the LGBT community and called for the practice to cease. While officials in the province said they would abandon public floggings and continue the practice in prisons, they are yet to deliver.
In 2016, the then-deputy mayor warned locals of the “LGBT threat” and vowed to create a special team to “train” members of the LGBT community to return to “normal lives.”
“Yesterday a group of individuals labelled as “Get The L Out!”, who were not a registered parade group, forced their way to the front of the parade to stand on the rainbow flag. Their behaviour was shocking and disgusting, and we condemn it completely.
“The lesbian board members at Pride in London made their anger towards the unsanctioned group clear and our organisation as a whole condemns their actions. The protest group showed a level of bigotry, ignorance and hate that is unacceptable.
“We reject what this group stands for. They do not share our values, which are about inclusion and respect and support for the most marginalised parts of our community.
“We are proud of our trans volunteers, proud of the trans groups that are in our parade, proud of our trans speakers at events and proud of the trans people who take part in our campaigns and proud of those who cheered even louder for them yesterday.”
The statement goes on to say the group – who initially stood on the rainbow flag that flies ahead of floats down the parade route – were placed in front of the parade to separate them from main attendees, as at that time they could not be arrested.
As Pride in London places heavy restrictions on numbers and has security as well as police officers for public safety during the parade, questions will be raised as to whether it would be necessary for an arrest able offence to be committed to remove anyone from an unauthorised area of an event.
The statement says “Sadly, we could not forcibly remove the group as their protest was not a criminal offence. They demanded to march behind the rainbow flag, which marks the official start of our parade. We did not allow that as we did not want to legitimise them or their message.
“We moved them to an area far in front of the official parade start to separate them. We are looking at what we could do differently if something like this happens again.
“The Pride goers who were in London yesterday told us that the actions of 8 people did not stop the joy and love that was demonstrated by the 30,000 people who followed. They tell us that cheers for our trans siblings were even louder.
“We are distraught by the messages and the hurt that has been caused and we held an urgent meeting with the Community Advisory Board this morning. We have also spoken to a number of individuals and groups including trans activists and Stonewall.
“As volunteers, we are shocked and appalled by this behaviour, not least because some felt threatened by the protesters. We are treating this extremely seriously and will be reviewing what happened with the Greater London Authority, the Metropolitan Police, Westminster City Council, TfL and continuing to consult with our Community Advisory Board.
“We will also be working with groups who have offered support given this issue must be stamped out and we will do everything we can to use our platform for good.
“Again, we are sorry to any of our trans siblings and their allies who have been affected.”
Representatives from Pride in London also issued personal statements, with Patricia Curtis, Board Member of South London group TransPALS saying –
“It’s disappointing that anti-trans activists decided to hijack the front of a parade, an insult to all the hardworking staff in the NHS whose place they stole.”
“But their vile stunt failed. London is a place that doesn’t tolerate hate. The reaction of the crowds to our groups was inspiring. We felt their support and goodwill all the way from Portland Place to Trafalgar Square.
“Pride must look at what happened and see what lessons need to be learned before next year.
“We urge all our fellow Londoners to respond to the Government’s consultation on reforms to the Gender Recognition Act.”
And Kristine Garina, President of European Pride Organisers Association, emphasising the role of trans people in the Pride movement and once again condemning the actions of the group.
“The Pride movement was begun by trans people and trans people must always be welcome at Pride. We utterly condemn the transphobic, hateful protestors who blocked the Pride in London Parade yesterday.
Hate has no place at Pride, and we stand with the organisers who have promised to review what happened to try and ensure it cannot happen again.”
Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo has said that rainbow crossings in the city – vandalised twice in one week with homophobic graffiti – will be made permanent.
The Pride-themed crossings were installed for Paris Pride, Marche des Fiertés, at the end of June.
However, the rainbow additions were targeted by vandals twice in one week – on June 25 and June 28 – who covered them with paint and scrawled homophobic messages, including “LGBT get out of France” and “LGBT dictatorship.”
The vandalism was promptly cleaned up and widely condemned, including by mayor Hidalgo.“Paris is a safe haven that embraces the republican values of freedom, equality and fraternity,” she wrote on Twitter.
“For they fall forever in its walls, crosswalks rainbow sky created for #MarcheFesFiertés will be permanent!”
The unidentified vandals also wrote “Hidalgo dégage” on one of the crossings, which translates to “Hidalgo get out,” in a direct message to the mayor.
One Paris resident had posted photos of the vandalised crossings to Twitter, adding: “These homophobic tags are a reflection of all the discrimination and violence faced by LGBTQIs everywhere in France and in the world, we will fight them relentlessly.”
Mayor Hidalgo had earlier responded to the vandalism, tweeting: “Last night the rainbow crosswalk in Marais has been vandalized again. This act of homophobia won’t go unpunished.
“The Prosecutor of the Republic will be seized. The municipal agents will clean up this morning.”
She also posted a video to Twitter of graffiti being removed from a rainbow crossing using a jet-wash.
Hidalgo added: “Thanks to the agents of the City of Paris, already on the ground to once again clean the rainbow pedestrian crossings of the Marais.”
Many prominent LGBT people and allies also condemned the repeated vandalism.
Following the first incident, openly gay Deputy Mayor Bruno Julliard said: “The homophobic degradation of our city’s rainbow decorations is unacceptable.
“This new manifestation of hideous hatred will only strengthen our determination to fight against discrimination without fail.”
Out politician Jean-Luc Romero added: “Anti-LGBTQI hatred struck at the heart of Paris. Our answer is Saturday, when hundreds of thousands of people will parade for the Pride Walk!”
Andrés Manuel López Obrador on Sunday became Mexico’s first leftist president in decades, winning in a landslide victory with more than 50 percent of the vote.López Obrador — commonly known by his initials AMLO — has a long history in politics. He was Mexico City’s mayor from 2000 to 2005, and he ran (and lost) in the two previous presidential elections. A member of the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD), López Obrador ran on an anti-corruption platform and a narrative of social change centered around eradicating poverty. His win represents a clear rejection of the status quo and political establishment and a desire for widespread change.
Gaby Soberanis, president of Diversidad Guerrero in Acapulco, said she hopes the changes brought about by his election and presidency are “for good,” and that he’s able to combat the country’s systemic “violence” and “insecurity” through “alliances, programs and public policies in favor of the collective.”
Current President Enrique Peña Nieto is one of the country’s most unpopular leaders in decades, with an administration characterized by scandal and inadequacy in combating crime and violence. According to the Mexican Interior Ministry, nearly 30,000 people were killed last year in the country, making it the worst year on record for homicides.
Mexican President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador (Photo by ProtoplasmaKid via Wikimedia Commons)
Peña Nieto was a member of the centrist Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which has ruled Mexico for most of the last century. José Antonio Meade, the PRI candidate in this year’s election, finished in third place behind López Obrador and Ricardo Anaya, a center-right politician.
López Obrador has already begun breaking from previous presidents; in his Sunday victory speech, he said, “the state will represent all Mexicans…from all points of view and sexual preferences.”
According to Karolyna Pollorena, an LGBT activist in Mexicali, López Obrador is the first president-elect in the country’s history to specifically mention the LGBTI community in his victory speech. She also said López Obrador will have a more diverse cabinet than previous administrations and more progressive representatives across various government sectors.
“With it [the administration] and the help of the Mexican LGBTTTI+ Coalition, we hope that this new government can help legalize marriage equality in the states where it’s lacking in Mexico and also move forward on issues of legislation that have (stalled) in past governments,” Pollorena said.
Despite his remarks in his victory speech, López Obrador did not campaign explicitly as an advocate for LGBT rights or marriage equality, and he dodged questions on the campaign trail regarding such issues. His electoral coalition also includes the Social Encounter Party (PES), which was founded by evangelical Christians and has opposed previous efforts to federally legalize same-sex marriage.
Given these factors, Alex Ali Méndez Díaz — a lawyer spearheading same-sex marriage efforts in Mexico — said LGBTI advocacy will remain principally centered in civil society.
“It is up to civil society to continue working to make our voices heard and to defend ourselves against any attempt at invisibilization and/or regression,” Méndez Díaz said.
Pollorena echoed Méndez Díaz’s belief that Mexican citizens are the key to progress and should be engaged and active under the new administration, saying “it is now important to invite citizens to get involved and demand that campaign promises be fulfilled when the new administration begins.”
The government will appoint a national LGBT health adviser and take measures to end so-called conversion therapy as part of a plan to deliver what Theresa May has promised will be “real and lasting change”.
The proposals form part of an action plan published by the Equalities Office on Tuesday. It follows a UK-wide survey of LGBT people that had more than 108,000 responses, billed as the largest study of its kind.
The proposals, which will receive an initial £4.5m in funding, were welcomed by the campaign groups Stonewall and the LGBT Foundation.
Ruth Hunt, Stonewall’s chief executive, said she was “really pleased that the government is listening to the thousands upon thousands of LGBT people who responded to this survey”.
The online poll, which ran from July to October last year, sought views from LGBT and intersex people about their personal experiences and interactions with public services.
Of those with a minority sexual orientation, 68% said they had avoided holding hands in public with a same-sex partner, while 70% said they had at times not been open about their sexual orientation.
In comments released with the plan, the prime minister said the survey had highlighted where more efforts were needed.
“I was struck by just how many respondents said they cannot be open about their sexual orientation or avoid holding hands with their partner in public for fear of a negative reaction,” May said.
“No one should ever have to hide who they are or who they love. [The plan will] set out concrete steps to deliver real and lasting change across society.”
The survey found 5% of respondents had been offered and refused types of conversion therapy – discredited techniques often based around religious views that seek to change people’s sexual orientation. Another 2% had undergone such processes.
The plan promises to end these practices, with the Equalities Office to look into various legislative or non-legislative ways to do so.
The techniques, sometimes called “cure” therapies, are based on the idea that being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is a mental complaint that can be reversed. They are often modelled on mainstream methods of psychotherapy, and sometimes prayer, and are known to be harmful.
All the major UK regulatory bodies for counselling and psychotherapy have banned members from using such methods, as has the NHS. However, a 2015 study by Stonewall found 10% of health and care staff had heard colleagues express the belief that sexuality can be “cured”.
One man who underwent such a process and then took part in sessions to “cure” him said the experience left him suicidal. He told ITV News he underwent a combination of confession and prayers, supposedly to rid him of a gay “demon”.
He then took part in sessions for others, but became depressed and prayed to die. “I wanted God to remove me from the world to lessen my suffering and to lessen the suffering of those around me,” he said.
“At the time I believed this was a demon being cast out of me. And I remember the next day waking up and thinking, I don’t really know what that means now. Does it mean I’m a straight man now? Is that demon gone? Did that demon really exist?”
The survey also found 26% of respondents had experienced verbal harassment or other insults in the past year, with many saying they did not report even more serious incidents to the police. New measures to improve the police’s response to such incidents will be proposed.
Penny Mordaunt, the minister for women and equalities, said: “Our action plan is a step towards everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity or sex characteristics, being able to live safe, happy and healthy lives where they can be themselves without fear of discrimination.”
May is to host the annual Downing Street LGBT Pride reception on Tuesday evening. Among the guests for the first time will be Peter Tatchell. The veteran campaigner said May had invited him after he was “banned” previously.
In a separate statement, Tatchell called the action plan a “welcome start”, but said it fell short on issues such as the deportation of LGBT refugees to countries where homophobia was widespread. The £4.5m budget was “derisory and insulting”, he added.
Paul Martin, the chief executive of the LGBT Foundation, said his organisation had worked with the Equalities Office on the survey and he was “delighted that the government has listened”.
The study and announcement are separate to government plans to amend the 2004 Gender Recognition Act, making the process by which transgender people can change their legal gender easier. A consultation on this is to begin soon.
Mordaunt said she had been struck by the survey showing how poorly served transgender people in Britain were by existing systems and legislations, saying the government would examine how to best speed up and demedicalise the process of changing gender.
She said the launch of the consultation was not a delaying tactic. “We want to make it less bureaucratic, more supportive and less intrusive,” she said.
Asked if there should be less emphasis on medical intervention, Mordaunt told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think that is absolutely right, we already require people to live in their new gender for two years, that is causing all kinds of difficulty and anxiety for people who may have two sets of identity documents … which causes huge problems accessing public services,” she said.
Mordaunt said she would also listen to the concerns of some women who have expressed fears that simplifying the process of changing gender could lead to the abuse of female-only spaces, such as domestic violence refuges.
“What we are not going to do is unpick the Equalities Act, which protects women-only spaces like refuges for example, we are not going to unpick those safeguards,” Mordaunt said.
“Those women raising those concerns are legitimate concerns that we need to address at the end of the consultation but equally legitimate are the concerns of individuals changing their gender and at the moment are having to make all kinds of strategies to do simple things like use the bathroom or go to the gym. We have to look at this and have a sensible conversation.”