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(Amsterdam) – The Moldovan government’s draft anti-discrimination law would provide a range of important protections, but it should be broadened to include gender identity, Human Rights Watch said today. The proposed law, which would provide protection on the basis of sexual orientation, is to be discussed in parliament shortly.

“Leaving a vulnerable group like transgender people out of this key law risks leaving them unprotected in their daily lives,” said Boris Dittrich, advocacy director for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights at Human Rights Watch. “The importance of specifying gender identity for protection from discrimination is well recognized in human rights law and should be a specific protected ground. Including gender identity in the new law would send a message that equality is truly for everyone.”

If the new law does not include gender identity as a specific protected ground, it would be virtually impossible for Moldova to monitor and redress any direct or indirect discrimination on the basis of gender identity, Human Rights watch said.

In its general comment No. 20, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights says, “Gender identity is recognized as among the prohibited grounds of discrimination; for example, persons who are transgender, transsexual or intersex often face serious human rights violations, such as harassment in schools or in the workplace.”

The principle of non-discrimination on the basis of gender identity is also part of more specialized human rights conventions. The UN Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) contains such a clause in article 2. The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women has clarified in a general recommendation that “discrimination of women based on sex and gender is inextricably linked with other factors that affect women, such as … sexual orientation and gender identity.… States Parties must legally recognize and prohibit such intersecting forms of discrimination and their compounded negative impact on women concerned.”

Adding “gender identity” to the enumeration of non-discrimination grounds in the new Moldovan law would help ensure that Moldova fulfills its obligations under these treaties, which it has ratified, Human Rights Watch said.

On March 31, 2010, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe unanimouslyadopted a set of recommendations (CM/Rec (2010)5) to member states, including Moldova, on measures to combat discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity. The recommendations invite the member states to ensure that the stipulated principles and measures are applied in national legislation, policies, and practices relevant to the protection of transgender people. Relevant recommendations are:

1. Examine existing legislative and other measures, keep them under review, and collect and analyze relevant data, in order to monitor and redress any direct or indirect discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity;

2. Ensure that legislative and other measures are adopted and effectively implemented to combat discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity, to ensure respect for the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons and to promote tolerance towards them.

On October 14, 2011, the Moldovan government accepted recommendations put forward by the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) working group on Moldova, as part of the UN Human Rights Council’s periodic reviews of the human rights situation in UN member countries. Two relevant recommendations are:

73.24 Prevent discrimination of social minorities, such as Roma people and LGBT persons and adopt a comprehensive anti-discrimination law (requested by Poland).

73.26 Intensify its efforts to address discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons and investigate and prosecute crimes against LGBT community members (requested by Norway).

“Clearly a comprehensive anti-discrimination law should be really comprehensive and include gender identity explicitly as protected ground,” Dittrich said. “I hope that the members of parliament will amend the draft law to include gender identity.”

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