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Posts Tagged ‘sex discrimination’

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

UN Women Ad Campaign Shows Pervasive Sexism

Lauren Posada

Recently, UN Women has launched an ad campaign, created by Memac Ogilvy and Mather Dubai, which shows the extent of worldwide sexism and discrimination against women. Using the Google search bar, UN Women inputted the beginning of sentences such as “women shouldn’t”, and put the drop down options over women’s mouths. While shocking, a quick check of Google shows that these are in fact true. Arwa Mahdawi, writing for the Guardian, warns us against taking the campaign too literally and notes that “autocomplete isn’t always an entirely accurate reflection of the collective psyche”. Whilst this may be true, and no doubt Google does come up with some questionable autocomplete answers at times, it is undeniably disturbing to see these searches from a world widely used search engine. Whilst perhaps the searches are not reflective of all of humanity, the adverts are definitely thought provoking and lead us to question how far equality between the genders has actually progressed.

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

Women bishops – Church of England votes no

Catherine Donegan

On 21st November, the Church of England Synod faced its biggest crisis yet after voting against allowing women to become bishops. The legislation, which would have swept away centuries of entrenched sexism, was rejected by just six votes. Controversy had centred on the provisions for parishes opposed to women bishops to request supervision by a stand-in male bishop.

After a 12 year push the long awaited measure was dealt a fatal blow. The legislation had needed a two-thirds majority in each of the three houses of the General Synod to pass. The measure was passed by the synod’s Houses of Bishops and Clergy but was rejected by the House of Laity. The votes were 44 for 3 against with two abstentions in the House of Bishops, 148 for 45 against the House of Clergy and 132 for 74 against in the House of Laity. If just six members of the laity had voted for instead of against the measure it would have been passed.

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Nikki Godden

Nikki is a doctoral student at Durham Law School, Durham University. She is co-creator and editor of Inherently Human.

Elizabeth M Schneider & Stephanie M Wildman (2011) Women and the Law Stories (Foundation Press)

Women and the Law Stories is a wonderful collection which tells the litigants’ tales that are a part of, but are typically excluded from, the legal history of landmark US cases which focus on women’s rights.  Chapters explore and evaluate feminist critiques of the relevant case, area of law and legal concepts in light of and in relation to these stories. The editors introduce the collection explaining that the telling and hearing of women’s stories (and, more generally, those of the powerless, disadvantaged or oppressed groups in society) has been a cornerstone of feminist method, practice and theory.[1] Or as put by Ann C Dailey, ‘the use of storytelling reflects a belief that personal and situated narrative is central to a proper understanding of justice’.[2] However, storytelling is not just a means to an end; it has an important normative dimension which reflects the idea that all voices, all storytellers, are equal and yet diverse and unique in many ways.[3] Embracing and following this storytelling tradition, the book reveals the ‘less well known’ personal narratives which ‘deserve wider recognition’.[4] In so doing, it challenges the dominant stories of these cases, and the ‘conventions of legal scholarship and institutional histories’.[5] To this end, the last chapter is a ‘hidden’ story, an ‘everyday’ case, which highlights ‘women’s experiences of anonymity and invisibility in the legal system’ and legal literature and mainstream scholarship.[6] While the stories are therefore valuable in themselves, the chapters also reflect on and interrogate feminist debates, approaches and concepts –  such as ‘gender stereotyping’ (Chamallas), equality  (Bartlett) equal versus special treatment (Wildman), access to healthcare and abortion (Copelon and Law) – exploring the implications for today and potential ways in which to move forwards in feminist legal theory and law reform. (more…)

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Equality & Sex Discrimination

Sheffield City Council has settled an equal pay case shortly before it was due to be heard by the Supreme Court. Around 900 women claimed that they were paid less than men doing comparable work. Last year the Court of Appeal agreed, holding that productivity bonuses granted to male employees resulted in unequal pay of men and women that was discriminatory (Gibson v Sheffield City Council [2010] EWCA Civ 63). Dave Prentis, the general secretary of Unison, said: ‘This is great news for thousands of women working at Sheffield council …. This decision also has implications for around 400,000 other women’s cases across the country. We hope these councils now stop wasting money on lawyers’ fees and face up to their responsibilities to pay women fairly’.

Cris McCurley, partner and head of international family law at north-east firm Ben Hoare Bell, said that the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill contravenes the UK’s obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). (more…)

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