Thomas Hammarberg, the commissioner for human rights for the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly, has called on Europe to do more to stop transphobia.
Hammarberg, who yesterday published an issue paper titled ‘Human rights and gender identity’, said: “The situation of transgender persons has long been ignored and neglected, although the problems they face are very real and often specific to this group alone.”
In his paper, Hammarberg included a call for better access to work and healthcare for trans people, as well as better provisions being made for married trans people.
“In some countries there is a legal obligation that a transgender person who is legally married to his or her different-sex partner has to divorce before his or her new gender can be recognised,” he said, citing the problems this causes when the couple can not remarry if their country does not allow same-sex marriage.
Same-sex marriage is only legal in five European states.
Hammarberg attacked the “forced divorce” that takes place in order for a married trans person to have “their new gender being officially recognised”.
He also commented on the “impact on the children in the marriage” such divorces have, adding: “In several countries the parent who has undergone the gender change will lose custody rights of the children.”
Hammarberg’s call for greater and all-encompassing rights for trans people was announced from this week’s World Outgames 2009, which is being held in Copenhagen.