Karen Ocamb

John Heilman's Report from Sweden on Stockholm Pride

Filed By Karen Ocamb | August 03, 2011 2:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: Birgitta Ohlsson, European Union, John Heilman, Stockholm Pride, Thomas Beatie, USC, Whittler Law School


West Hollywood City Council member John Heilman, an openly gay law professor at USC and Whittler Law School, is in Stockholm researching LGBT rights in Europe. He emailed some observations from the Stockholm Pride Parade and panels on transgender rights in Europe to LGBT POV editor Karen Ocamb.

From John Heilman:

The trans man who became pregnant, Thomas Beatie, opened Stockholm Pride. He spoke about his decision to go public after gossip started in his town about his pregnancy. Beatie was well received. In Sweden, the Christian Minister of Health requires trans members to remove reproductive organs in order to transition.

Military openly recruits at the Pride festival.

The Commissioner for Human Rights issued a report in June 2011 for the European Union on discrimination against LGBT people in Europe. Micah Grzynowicz, who worked on the report, talked about it at the Pride festival. He said he discussed the report with the Swedish Minister for the European Union, Birgitta Ohlsson. It's the first time such a report of this nature was done. It required cooperation between academics, NGO’s, human rights organizations in government and the United Nations program on refugees.

The report has 6 sections; three were discussed: 1) Assembly and association, 2) violence and asylum, and 3) legal recognition of trans people. The report is important but the recommendations are not valid. Thomas Hammemburg from Sweden was responsible for the report. Europe is divided on LGBT rights with lots of progress in Western Europe but with little progress in East. Report can be downloaded in English.

More from Heilman:

On Assembly and association – 12 out of 47 states have bans on LGBT pride festivals and gatherings. And even of those remaining, there has been violence associated with these events. The countries that ban Pride have a prohibition forbidding any promotion of homosexuality.

Recommendations from report:

1. Respect right of freedom of assembly of LGBT persons to ensure peaceful pride and other public events

2. Provide protection to participants of peaceful Pride and other LGBT gatherings.

3. Respect right of freedom of expression.

Next section was on violence. Three major issues: underreporting of violence and harassment against LGBT people. Some is based on lack of law enforcement training. In some countries, there are no nationwide hate crime laws, especially in Eastern Europe. Only two countries have protections for trans people in discrimination laws.

Some countries provide asylum for people who are faced with violence based on LGBT status. LGBT refugees may be discriminated against.

Recommendations: improving immigration education and improving safety at refugee centers.

The last topic was on trans rights and gender recognition. Trans rights are mainstreamed throughout report. 24 out of 47 states do not have any law at all; 13 of the 24 are case by case; 29 countries have sterilization requirements. If you have gender reassignment you are required to be sterilized; 4 countries do not require this. Some require you to be unmarried to have gender reassignment. Rights for transgender people are not so neatly divided into West vs Eastern Europe. There are some issues with name changes and diplomas. But there is a Big issue with access to health care for trans people, as well as issues about who bears the cost of gender reassignment surgery.

(Cross-posted at LGBT POV)

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Just to clarify, the "Christian Minister of Health" that is referred to here is a member of the "Christian Democratic Party", a center-right group. I'm not sure why he is referred to as the "Christian Minister of Health" and not the "Christian Democratic Minister of Health". His stance doesn't have to do particularly with his faith, but with the stance his party has chosen to take. In the bigger picture, the Lutheran Church in Swedish, the largest and most influential, is very LGBT friendly, has a gay bishop and blesses same-gender marriages.

Justus Eisfeld Justus Eisfeld | September 13, 2011 11:55 AM

Also, the report was made by the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, not the European Union. Those are two different organizations. The Council of Europe is much larger than the EU.