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ILGA team in Geneva

in FRANCE, 26/05/2004

Armand Hotimsky

My involvement in the struggle for the rights of sexual minorities dates back to 1980 when I participated in the CUARH – Anti Homosexual Repression Urgency Committee. Since 1991, I organise the first transgender meetings in Paris. Finally, in 1995 I created the CARITIG (Aid, Research and Information Center on Transexuality and Gender Identity), which is the first organisation entirely dedicated to the transgender community in France.

Homophobia, transphobia, the struggle continues

The beginning of the year 2004 was marked by the aggression of Sébastien Nouchet in northern France. Sprayed with gasoline and set on fire on January the 16th, he lies today in a hospital bed, with third degree burns. The LGBT community has been fighting for years to include gender discrimination as a punishable crime. Since this drama, actions have intensified: petitions, meetings, media coverage, appeals to the government, etc… Finally, the government will present a Law Project that will punish gender-hatred incitation. CARITIG is actively fighting to include transphobia in this project.

CARITIG works at all levels to help the transgender community. These actions include information, networking, meeting organization, publications, and hotline and personal help, and participating in Pride marches. We also have a website and partnerships with SOS Homophobia, the homophobia observatory in France.

If many European countries have already adopted Civil Register Laws for transgender people, some, like the United Kingdom and Belgium, are preparing such modifications to their Civil Codes. France, although condemned by the European Court for Human Rights in March 1992, still has no plans for changing its law procedures. In the light of this, CARITIG keeps a constant pressure on public officials to achieve recognition of the discrimination transgender people have to face, so that measures shall be taken, such as the abolition of the 1907 Lépine Ordonnance that prohibits transvestism, and also that a law shall be passed that will guarantee non discriminatory conditions for the transgender community.

Information concerning the Brazilian Resolution was widely distributed in France. The media had carried it widely. CARITIG participated in the spreading of this information through its monthly newsletter. In autumn 2005, Paris will host the ILGA-EUROPE Conference. If the French people have been a bit isolated, this manifestation has already begun to create a network of associations in Europe and the rest of the World. This might help broaden the horizon in the perception of the LGBT community throughout Europe and will serve as an exchange platform for experiences.

Gender Identity and the UN Resolution

Although strong personalities of the international transgender community will be present in geneva 2005, the mention of Gender Identity remains uncertain. Being the only representative of France, my mission this year was to promote French-speaking countries to support this mention. Meetings with delegations of France, Switzerland and many African countries helped confirm the importance of its inclusion and the right to expression.
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