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Today is Wednesday, November 28, 2007


European Court of Human Rights to Hear Transsexual Discrimination Cases

[UNITED KINGDOM] - The European Court of Human Rights will be holding a public hearing in the Human Rights Building, Strasbourg, on Thursday 11 July 2002 at 9 a.m. (local time) to deliver Grand Chamber judgments in the cases of Goodwin v. the United Kingdom and I. v. the United Kingdom. Both cases involve post-operative male to female transsexual United Kingdom nationals who claim they experience discriminatory treatment.

In Goodwin v. the United Kingdom (no. 28957/95), Christine Goodwin, born in 1937, claims that she had problems and faced sexual harassment at work during and following her gender re-assignment. Most recently, she experienced difficulties concerning her national insurance (NI) contributions. As legally she is still a man, she has to continue to pay NI contributions until the age of 65. If she had been recognised as a woman, she would have ceased to be liable at the age of 60 in April 1997. She has had to enter into a special arrangement to continue paying her NI contributions directly herself to avoid questions being raised by her employers about the anomaly. She also alleges that the fact that she keeps the same NI number has meant that her employer has been able to discover that she previously worked for them under another name and gender, with resulting embarrassment and humiliation.

In I. v. the United Kingdom (no. 25680/94), I., who used to work as a dental nurse, claims that she was unable to obtain admittance to a nursing course, as she refused to present her birth certificate. Since 1988 it appears that she has not worked and that she is living on a disability pension due to ill-health.

The applicants both complain about the lack of legal recognition of their post-operative sex and about the legal status of transsexuals in the United Kingdom. They complain, in particular, about their treatment in relation to employment, social security and pensions and their inability to marry either as a man or a woman. Both rely on Articles 8 (right to respect for private and family life), 12 (right to marry and to found a family) and 14 (prohibition of discrimination) of the Convention. Ms Goodwin also relies on Article 13 (right to an effective remedy).

The European Court of Human Rights was set up in Strasbourg in 1959 to deal with alleged violations of the 1950 European Convention on Human Rights. On 1 November 1998 a full-time Court was established, replacing the original two-tier system of a part-time Commission and Court.

A decision in Goodwin & I v UK Government from the European Court of Human Rights is to be handed down July 11.

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