Press Release

IACHR Welcomes Progress towards the Recognition of Gender Identity in the Region

December 21, 2018

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Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) welcomes the important advances towards the recognition of gender identity and integral protection of trans people and people of diverse gender in the region. In this regard, the IACHR welcomes the enactment of the Comprehensive Law for Trans Persons in Uruguay and the Law on Gender Identity in Chile and calls for its swift and comprehensive practical implementation.

The Commission highlights the enactment of the Comprehensive Law for Trans Persons in Uruguay on November 14, which recognizes the right to gender identity of trans persons based on self-determination and through administrative procedures that take into account self-perceived gender identity, without imposing pathologizing or stigmatizing requirements, including for children and adolescents under the age of eighteen. The IACHR emphasizes the important perspective of comprehensive protection of various human rights contained in this law, which expressly provides for the guarantee of access to education and culture, work and health free from all forms of discrimination. The law also provides for the creation of a category of gender identity in the national census, as well as reparation for victims of state persecution based on actual or perceived gender identity during the dictatorship.

The IACHR also takes note of the enactment, on November 29, of the Gender Identity Law in Chile, which ensures that trans people and people of diverse genders can change their names, sex marker data, and photographic records in all public and private documents in the country, from the age of 14 and according to their own perception. This law establishes that the adequacy of the birth certificate registration must occur through an administrative procedure for those over 18 years of age and, in the case of adolescents, requests the authorization of one of the parents or responsible guardian, as well as with the approval of a judge of the family court.

At the same time, the IACHR notes with concern the inclusion of the requirement of mandatory divorce for married persons who agree to a change of name, sex and image in the documentation, which could represent an obstacle to the recognition of gender identity and a violation of the right to non-discrimination. The IACHR reiterates that gender identity is a constitutive element of the personality of individuals and that it is vital that States fully recognize gender diversity in order to guarantee the full exercise and enjoyment of all human rights of trans people and people of diverse genders, including the protection and recognition of the right to equality and non-discrimination.

In this regard, the Rapporteur on the Rights of LGBTI Persons, Commissioner Flávia Piovesan, stated that "the Integral Law for Trans Persons of Uruguay represents one of the most advanced legal instruments in the world to date, since it covers in an integral manner a great variety of rights, such as gender identity, health, housing, education and culture". The commissioner adds that "the creation and implementation of gender identity laws in the region are ways to begin to repair a historical debt that Latin American democracies have with trans people. In that sense, Chile's gender identity law has a positive impact on the conditions and quality of life of trans people, guaranteeing the most basic right to exist.”

The Executive Secretary of the IACHR, Paulo Abrão, said that "these laws translate into an achievement of the work of civil society and states in advancing the defense and promotion of human rights for all people.”

The Commission applauds the enactment of these gender identity laws and calls upon all States in the region to adopt measures, without delay, aimed at prompt, transparent, and accessible legal recognition of gender identity, guaranteeing the human rights of all trans and gender diverse persons and respecting their self-perception. In addition, the IACHR reiterates the importance for States to ensure that their legislation and public policies are inclusive and compatible with the right of trans people to live free from discrimination, prejudice and violence.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for and to defend human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 275/18