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EU discrimination law must cover gender identity issues

July 5, 2010 7:00 PM

Liberal Democrat European justice & human rights spokeswoman and London MEP Sarah Ludford has asked the European Commission to explore what action can be taken at European level to prevent discrimination against both transgender and non-gendered people.

Commenting on the reply from the Commissioner for justice, fundamental rights & citizenship Viviane Reding, Sarah Ludford said, "I am encouraged that the Commission's response signals an encouraging willingness to examine what legal and policy action it could take to improve the situation of transgender and non-gendered people."

"In view of the lack of specific legal power for the EU to act in this area - since the EU treaties do not refer to gender identity as a separate ground for discrimination - I appreciate that EU authorities feel constrained in what they can do."

"But I believe it is legitimate to extend the interpretation of EU law so that it protects not only (as it does) people who have undergone gender reassignment but also those whose gender identity is complex or who identify with no gender. We also need to promote a greater public awareness of transgender and gender neutrality issues."

Note - the term 'transgender' has several usages or meanings, but as being used here at EU authority level broadly covers those whose identity combines or moves between male or female gender roles, whereas 'non-gendered' means people not identifying with either male or female gender.