Legislation Watch

Myanmar Enacts Discriminatory Population Control Law, Further Threatening the Rohingya

London, 10 June 2015

On 23 May 2015, the Law for Health Care Relating to Control of Population Growth (The Pyidaungsu Hluttaw Law 28/2015), which allows authorities the power to implement "birth spacing", was signed by President Thein Sein. The Law is one of four pieces of legislation that together make up the “Protection of Race and Religion Laws”, a package of bills reported to have been driven by nationalist Buddhist monks with an anti-Muslim agenda. The law permits the government to control population growth in certain areas by limiting how often women may have children. It has been widely condemned both for violating women’s rights and for its potential to be used as a tool for ethnic and religious discrimination against communities like the Rohingya.

Ireland Votes to Become Nineteenth State to Legalise Same-sex Marriage

London, 26 May 2015

On Friday 22 May 2015, Ireland voted 62.1% in favour of legalising same-sex marriage and is set to be the nineteenth country in the world to recognise an equal right to marry regardless of sexual orientation. The Equal Rights Trust strongly welcomes the ends, but issues caution on the means employed.

The majority support for same-sex marriage equality marks a great success for the Irish equal rights movement and, when considering that same-sex sexual conduct was a criminal offence until as late as 1993, Friday’s result also shows how much the country has changed.

However, at this time of celebration for the rights of same-sex couples in Ireland, it is important to be mindful about the best way to advance the equal rights of those in countries which have yet to legalise same-sex marriage.

New Russian Regulations Force Transgendered Persons to Undergo Assessment before Receiving a Driving Licence

On 29 December 2014, the Russian government adopted Decree No. 1604 “On the list of medical contraindications, medical indications and medical restrictions to driving”. The decree potentially places restrictions on the ability of persons with specified medical conditions to obtain a driving licence. The Equal Rights Trust is concerned that this Decree discriminates on the basis of gender identity.
Decree No. 1604 was adopted in pursuance of Article 231 of the Federal Law “On Road Safety”, following its amendment in 2013. Article 231 provides that persons with certain medical conditions are either prohibited from driving, or are required to use special devices or vehicular adaptations, in order to receive a driving licence.

Landmark Transgender Law Enforced in Denmark

London, 15 September 2014

On 1 September 2014, in an important step towards greater equality, an amendment to the law regulating the Danish National People’s Register came into effect, allowing transgender people to obtain new official documents reflecting their choice of gender through a simple administrative procedure. The amendment makes Denmark the first European country to allow legal recognition of gender on the basis of self-identification. It is hoped that Denmark’s move will pave the way for change in other countries, eventually ending the requirement that individuals undergo invasive medical procedures or diagnoses in order to receive legal recognition of their gender identity.

Gender Discriminatory Nationality Laws Addressed and Risk of Statelessness Reduced by Suriname

On 10 July 2014, Suriname’s National Assembly passed the Draft Law on Nationality and Residency (“the Law”), amending Law No. 4 of 24 November 1975 on Surinamese Nationality and Residence.

The Law, which comes into force on its publication in the official gazette, amends aspects of the 1975 Law which discriminated between men and women with regard to the ability to pass their Surinamese nationality onto their children and the acquisition and loss of nationality in the context of marriage and divorce. In so doing, the Law reverses decades of gender discrimination in nationality laws and reduces the risk of statelessness. Furthermore, it brings Surinamese law in line with international standards, in particular, article 9(1) and (2) of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

Luxembourg Joins the Growing Number of Countries Legalising Same-Sex Marriage

2 July 2014 
On 18 June, an overwhelming majority of Luxembourg’s national legislative body, the Chambre des Députés, approved Bill No. 6172A legalising same-sex marriage. Luxembourg now joins a growing number of countries which recognise equal rights to marriage regardless of sexual orientation, becoming the 18th country to legalise same-sex marriage. New Zealand, France, Uruguay, England and Scotland all recently passed legislation to provide equal rights to marry. 
Luxembourg’s bill was first introduced in its parliament in May 2012. Along with legalising same-sex marriage, the bill makes several other changes that advance equality. As a result of the bill: 

    Georgia Significantly Expands its Legal Protection from Discrimination

    London, 19 May 2014

    On 7 May, the Law of Georgia on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination came into force after being signed by Georgia’s President Margvelashvili.  The enactment of the Law is to be strongly welcomed as it moves Georgia’s anti-discrimination framework closer towards the standards required by international law. There is some room for improvement in the final text.

    Nigeria Becomes the Latest Country to Pass Dangerous Anti-Gay Legislation

    London, 15 January 2014
    On 7 January 2014, President Goodluck Jonathan signed into law the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act in secret. The Act imposes lengthy prison sentences on any person who attempts to enter into a same-sex marriage or civil union; who participates in a gay club, society or organisation; or who makes a public display of affection with a person of the same sex.

    Homosexuals Face Life Imprisonment if Ugandan Bill Signed into Law

    London, 23 December 2013

    On 20 December 2013, the Ugandan Parliament passed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, after it was unexpectedly scheduled for a vote when the majority of MPs were not present. The Bill, which makes same-sex sexual conduct an offence punishable by life imprisonment, was passed in Parliament despite Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi expressing concern that there was not a quorum. The news is the latest blow for the equality of all regardless of sexual orientation around the globe, and demonstrates the level of discrimination and prejudice faced by homosexuals in Uganda.