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Posts Tagged ‘gender’

IB imageRussia bans Trans* people from driving

Catherine Ravenscroft, Durham University

Last month Russia enacted a new law effectively banning people with certain illnesses from driving. Within the listed illnesses are those viewed as “personality and behaviour disorders”, for example transsexualism and other “disorders of sexual preference”.

The move was justified by the Russian government on the basis of a need to reduce the high rates of traffic accidents occurring each year. The country currently has some of the worst figures for road accident fatalities in the world and it is believed that stricter controls on those given the opportunity to drive will make the roads safer.

Nevertheless, the Act has received international criticism due to its potentially detrimental effects on the transgender community. Jean Freedberg, of Human Rights Campaign Global, argued that the ban is “simply another example of the Russian government’s increased campaign of persecution and discrimination against its LGBT population”. Like other critics, Freedberg fails to see the logic behind connection that the Russian government has drawn between gender identity and driver ability. As Shawn Gaylord, of US-based Human Rights First, argues, “banning people from driving based on their gender identity or expression is ridiculous”. He also expresses concerns that it could deter transgender people from seeking mental health services due to a fear of losing the right to drive.

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Snapshots of law, gender and sexuality news from the past couple of weeks.

‘Equal Recognition’ campaign launched in Edinburgh; hope for a ‘third gender’ within the UK?

Oriana Frame, Durham University.

On the 1st of November 2014, the Equal Recognition campaign was launched in Edinburgh. The campaign, pioneered by The Scottish Transgender Alliance alongside the Equality Network, has vocalised the notion that Scotland, along with the rest of the United Kingdom, is falling behind countries such as India, Denmark, Bangladesh and Germany who have already legally recognised a ‘third’ non-binary gender.

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Snapshots of law, gender and sexuality news from the past couple of weeks.

The Human Trafficking and Exploitation Bill (NI)

Sarah Thin, Durham University

On the 20th of October, the Northern Irish Assembly passed the Human Trafficking and Exploitation Bill, a controversial new law which purportedly seeks to combat human trafficking and sexual exploitation by, inter alia, criminalising the act of paying for sexual services.  It is likely to become law by mid-2015.  By targeting the buyer as opposed to the seller (a novel approach within the UK), the proposals aim to recreate the supposed success of the ‘Swedish model’, the idea behind which is to reduce demand within the sex trade thereby reducing levels of sex trafficking.

There has been heavy criticism of the proposals: a survey of sex workers has found that 98% of them oppose the proposals and 61% believe the new law would make them less safe.  Many argue that the Swedish model ‘strips women of their agency and autonomy’ by criminalising the consensual buying and selling of sex, has increased the stigmatisation of sex workers, and its success appears to have been greatly exaggerated.  While no-one would deny that human trafficking is a major problem in today’s society, claims that the majority of sex workers in Northern Ireland are victims of trafficking have been shown to be unfounded, and many believe the plans will simply force the sex trade further underground, making it even more difficult to combat the issue and provide support to victims.  These proposals, while presumably well-meaning, conflate the two separate issues of trafficking and consensual sex work and are likely to be at best ineffective, most likely very harmful.  We must hope that the new campaign for a similar law in England meets with a more considered approach. 

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Anna_JobeAnna Jobe is a third year PhD student at Durham Law School. Her thesis research concerns the regulation of religious symbols.

“I do not know what the definition of ‘draconian’ is, but it certainly does not sound very good, and I am sure that it does not apply to my Bill.”

– Philip Hollobone

On the 28th February 2014, the Face Coverings (Prohibition) Bill had its second reading in the House of Commons. The debate will be resumed on May 16th. Introduced as a Private Members’ Bill, it represents Conservative MP Philip Hollobone’s second attempt to prohibit the wearing of ‘certain face coverings’ in public places (after his 2010 Face Coverings (Regulation) Bill). It forms part of a series of Tory Private Members’ Bills dubbed the ‘Alternative Queen’s Speech’, which include the return of national service and the death penalty, as well as a national ‘Margaret Thatcher’ day. By Hollobone’s own admission, despite being framed in neutral terms, the Bill is designed to target two coverings in particular: balaclavas and full-face Islamic veils (hereafter ‘veils’). In the context of increasingly punitive measures in other parts of Europe – including criminal sanctions in France and Belgium – the passing of this Bill is not quite as implausible as may first appear.

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ComputerErika Rackley and Clare McGlynn (Durham University) have written widely on extreme pornography. You can read more about their research here and here.

In May 2008, following a 3 year period of extensive consultation and against a backdrop of significant and predominantly critical public debate, a new offence criminalising the possession of extreme pornography received its Royal Assent. The Government’s purpose in introducing the new law was to address an ‘increasing public concern’ about the availability of extreme pornography particularly that produced outside the UK and distributed via the internet which lay beyond the reach of the Obscene Publications Act 1959. It did so by shifting the focus from the producers to consumers – targeting the users of pornographic material by enabling prosecutions to be brought, for the first time, against anyone downloading, and therefore generating the demand for, such material.

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ComputerWelcome to Inherently Human’s Blog Carnival, ‘Criminalising Extreme Pornography: Five Years On’.

This Blog Carnival follows from the ‘Criminalising Extreme Pornography: Five Years On’ seminar which took place on 8th May 2013 at Durham University, marking five years since the passage of legislation criminalising the possession of extreme pornography. The seminar brought together academics, activists, policy-makers and other regulatory authorities to evaluate the success or failure of the legislation and to ask what, if any, reforms are necessary to secure progress toward this objective. Delegates were encouraged to tweet using the hashtag #EP5 (more…)

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Snapshots of law, gender and sexuality news from the past couple of weeks

Prime Minister calls for more women in top positions

Jayne Howell

On a recent trip to Mumbai, David Cameron stated that Britain needs to do more to ensure that there are more women as MPs, and in top positions in British business and the judiciary.  The unlikely source for this statement comes, not from his cabinet, but from his wife Samantha Cameron, who told him that they are ‘missing out on a lot more that 50% of the talent’ by not having women in top positions. He also admitted that there were not enough women in the Cabinet.

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