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Oppression Squared: D/deaf and disabled trans experience in Europe

February 22nd 2018

Report by Transgender Europe

On 5 February 2018, Transgender Europe launched their latest report: "Oppression Squared: D/deaf and disabled trans experience in Europe" during a webinar, highlighting the various challenges that D/deaf and disabled trans people face in accessing their human rights and the barriers they experience in attempting to engage with LGBTIQ organizations. In this regard, the report presents a valuable source for organizations, including equality bodies, in ensuring accessibility and inclusiveness of their work for human rights, equality and non-discrimination.

During a webinar discussion held on 5 February 2018, Transgender Europe launched their latest report called Oppression Squared: D/deaf and disabled trans experiences in Europe. This ground-breaking report presents the findings from an expert meeting of 10 D/deaf and disabled rights experts with experience of trans and LGBIQ activism from Canada, Czech Republic, England, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Sweden held in Berlin in summer of 2017. Grounded in the social model of disability and with intersectionality at its core, the report consists of two main parts:


First, it sets out the various challenges that D/deaf and disabled trans people face in accessing their human rights with regards to healthcare, independent living, freedom from torture or cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment, and respect for privacy. The first chapter further explains how LGBTIQ organisations can contribute to reducing these difficulties by including the human rights priorities of D/deaf and disabled trans people within their trans advocacy. The identified human rights advocacy priorities, strategies and solutions in the report may be highly valuable for a range of human rights organizations, as well as equality bodies, for more effective non-discrimination and pro-equality work.


Secondly, the report discusses barriers that D/deaf and disabled trans people experience in attempting to engage with LGBTIQ organisations. This highlights the need for awareness-raising among human rights organizations, as well as equality bodies, of the various access challenges minority rights groups face when trying to reach out to them. In addition, the second chapter provides an extensive list of practical examples for organizations on how to overcome or reduce existing barriers in order to communicate and engage with D/deaf and disabled trans persons more effectively - again, a valuable source for human rights organizations and equality bodies working on different grounds of discrimination.


Via Transgender Europe website


Equinet and equality bodies are committed to the non-discrimination and equality of trans and disabled people, and show a growing appreciation of intersectionality and multiple discrimination in their work. This has been reflected in a number of publications and activities set by Equinet’s strategic plans and annual work plans, as well as in the daily work of Equinet member national equality bodies. Some of the highlights are noted below.


Trans & LGBIQ+ Rights


Building on a survey of the work of equality bodies on trans person’s issues and written contributions from the equality bodies participating in the Equinet Policy Formation working group, in 2010 Equinet produced the Perspective "Making Equality Legislation work for Trans People". In 2018, the Gender Equality Working Group will update the information contained therein with a fact sheet on Trans Rights.

The Perspective provides insight into the work of equality bodies in promoting equality for and combating discrimination against trans people at national-level. It also sets out recommendations to equality bodies and European institutions on the prioritisation of issues concerning trans person’s rights and more effective protection of those rights. As noted, the perspective was significantly informed by the work of equality bodies on ground. Among these were:


  • Guidelines by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, Great Britain, including on guiding public officials and service providers to provide inclusive
    and respectful services to trans people no matter the field that they operate in;
  • Report on the situation of trans people from Belgium’s Institute for the Equality of Women and Men, entitled "Being transgender in Belgium: Mapping the social and legal situation of transgender people in Belgium";
  • National initiatives from Germany, Estonia, Poland, Estonia, Austria, Croatia and Serbia were also highlighted.


 (Click to enlarge picture) In 2013 Equinet produced the Perspective Equality Bodies Promoting Equality & Non-Discrimination for LGBTI People, which was the result of a workshop on the work of equality bodies on LGBTI issues held as part of a meeting of Equinet’s working group on Policy Formation. This perspective was based on a survey of Equinet members to explore the work being done by individual equality bodies in promoting equality for and combating discrimination against LGBTI people. Based on the perspective, in June 2014, a training event was organized by Equinet, hosted by the Swedish Equality Ombudsman, to provide equality body staff members with space for peer learning and for discussing key challenges and good practices of combating discrimination against and promoting equality of LGBTI people.


 (Click to enlarge picture) The 2015 Equinet Perspective The Persistence of Discrimination, Harassment and Inequalities for Women highlights the work of equality bodies informing the European Commission Strategy on Gender Equality and includes a chapter on the work done by national equality bodies on discrimination against trans people.


 (Click to enlarge picture) In September 2017, Equinet, in response to the European Commission’s initiative on advancing LGBTI equality, produced a factsheet, highlighting some of the ways in which the work of national equality bodies in Europe contributes to the implementation of the List of Actions. It focuses on action n°4 “Supporting key actors responsible to promote and advance equal rights for LGBTI people in the EU” and provides insights and good practices with regards to bullying and harassment of LGBTI people, support to education actors and businesses to advance LGBTI equality, as well as support to key actors in relation to equal access to healthcare for LGBTI people.


As of today, 30 Equinet members have mandates to address discrimination on the ground of gender identity in employment or beyond (education, housing, social protection and goods & services).


Disability Rights


Disability is another priority ground for the work of Equinet and equality bodies. Currently, 32 Equinet member equality bodies implement a mandate addressing the rights of disabled people in the area of employment or beyond at national-level. Equinet has assisted the work of equality bodies through a number of activities and publications, and raised the issue of discrimination and equality at European-level.


 (Click to enlarge picture) In 2013 Equinet published a Good Practice Guide on Equality Bodies Supporting Good Practice on Making Reasonable Accommodation for People with Disabilities by Employers and Service Providers, building on the experience and learning of national equality bodies and partner organizations such as the European Disability Forum (EDF) and European Network Against Racism (ENAR) to provide insight into a broad range of innovative and engaging approaches implemented across Europe in the direction of promoting reasonable accommodation measures, at the same time striving to encourage equality bodies to use the guide as a resource to develop, refine and improve their own approach and to take action in promoting reasonable accommodation among employers and service providers.


 (Click to enlarge picture) In 2014 Realising Rights: Equality Bodies and People with Disabilities. Supporting the Review of the European Union Disability Strategy 2010-2020 Equinet Perspective was developed on the basis of a survey of Equinet members about their work with people with disabilities. It captured the focus and strategy of the work of equality bodies across different Member States and communicated learnings from this for the further evolution of the European Disability Strategy at the point of its review and renewal. The Perspective followed an earlier opinion on EU level disability strategies published in 2009 by Equinet as a way to communicate expertise and experiences of national equality bodies in relation to their work on the ground of disability to the European Commission’s Disability Action Plan proposal at the time.


Informed by the aforementioned publications, in 2016, Equinet and the Austrian Disability Ombudsman organised the seminar Accessibility and reasonable accommodation in Vienna, Austria. The seminar took stock of the experiences of equality bodies on accessibility and reasonable accommodation. It also aimed to build their capacity in understanding, promoting and ensuring reasonable accommodation and accessibility.


In March 2017 Equinet and the Croatian Office of the Ombudswoman for Persons with Disabilities co-organised a capacity-building seminar on Equality bodies tackling discrimination against persons with intellectual disabilities in Zagreb, Croatia, which aimed at helping equality bodies with understanding and clarifying the main concepts related to discrimination against persons with intellectual disabilities, providing them with practical guidance on how to address discrimination against persons with intellectual disabilities from a legal, policy and communication perspective, and stimulate and support knowledge-sharing among Equinet members.


Appreciation for Intersectionality


In recent years, growing appreciation for intersectionality among human rights, equality and non-discrimination advocates has been demonstrated. Attention to intersectionality and multiple-discrimination has also been placed high on Equinet’s and equality bodies’ agenda.


Given the pervasive challenge both for European non-discrimination law, and for equality bodies seeking to protect groups in the most vulnerable positions and multiple identities, in 2016 Equinet organized the conference "Diverse, Inclusive and Equal: Innovating at the intersections of gender equality", hosted by the Belgian Institute for the Equality of Women and Men in Brussels. The conference provided a platform to discuss the challenges in the promotion of intersectional approach to equality and intersectional discrimination litigation and set out a vision for following work of promoting an intersectional approach to equality and combating intersectional discrimination.


 (Click to enlarge picture) During the conference, the conclusions of the 2016 Equinet Perspective “Innovating at the Intersections - Equality Bodies Tackling Intersectional Discrimination” were presented. Based on the contribution of 23 equality bodies from 21 European countries, the Perspective was the result of cooperation of Equinet’s working groups on Policy Formation and Gender Equality seeking to strengthen equality bodies’ strategic approach to addressing intersectional discrimination and promoting equality on an intersectional basis, in addition to raising awareness about intersectional discrimination in the European equality and non-discrimination agenda.