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Hong Kong LGBTI rights group calls on UN to rebuke govt’s treatment of trans people

Hong Kong LGBTI rights group calls on UN to rebuke govt’s treatment of trans people

Hong Kong’s LGBTI rights group The Pink Alliance will formally call on the UN Committee Against Torture next week to rebuke the government for its ill-treatment of transgender people, reports the South China Morning Post (SCMP) today.

The group has singled out the government’s requirement for transgender individuals to undergo full realignment surgery, a series of painful and prohibitively expensive medical procedures which include genital construction and sterilization, before they can legally change their gender status.

It said the UN’s special rapporteur on torture had recognized that such requirements might constitute torture or inhumane treatment.

A 2015 report by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on discrimination against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender states, ‘United Nations mechanisms have called upon States to legally recognize transgender persons’ preferred gender, without abusive requirements, including sterilization, forced medical treatment or divorce.’

Transgender people, whose stated gender status in their identity documents and passports do not match the gender they present in, face challenges when traveling, opening a bank account, getting a job and a home without encountering prejudice, and being able to marry.

The Department of Justice is said to have been leading a review of the rules for almost two years but has yet to announce any conclusions.

In a column published in the same newspaper on Oct 29, Dr Sam Winter, head of the sexology team at Curtin University in Perth, Western Australia and former Hong Kong resident, urged the city’s medical bodies to align themselves with medical opinion worldwide and make their positions known to the government.

‘Every organisation I have listed says it clearly: surgical requirements for legal gender recognition are in violation of basic rights (including to health) and may constitute coerced medical practices,’ Winter wrote.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, World Health Organisation, UN Development Programme, Amnesty International, Open Societies Foundation, World Professional Association for Transgender Health, World Association for Sexual Health and the American Medical Association now back the call for an end to gender recognition policies that impose medical preconditions.

The column added that the World Medical Association (WMA), which represents 10 million physicians and 102 national medical associations – including the Hong Kong Medical Association (HKMA), last month spoken in favor of the right of all transgender people to self-identification – without coercive treatment of any kind, including forced and coerced sterilization.