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UK launches action plan to promote transgender equality

The UK Home Office Government Equalities Office [official website] on Thursday announced the UK's first ever government action plan promoting transgender equality [report, PDF; official website]. The plan stated that there was a 14 percent rise in transgender-related hate crime between 2009 and 2010 and that only two EU member states explicitly address transgender hate crimes in their hate crime legislation. The report proposed amending Section 146 and Schedule 21 [text] of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 [materials] so that crimes motivated by hostility towards transgender individuals are considered hate crimes and that the minimum sentence for murders motivated by hostility towards transgender individuals be 30 years. This is double the current minimum sentence [BBC report]. The Ministry of Justice [official website] later clarified that the increased minimum sentence would also apply to murders motivated by hate of disabled people [press release]. The plan also calls for a government-wide appraisal of transgender rights and the special needs of transgender individuals, greater protection for the privacy of transgender individuals and greater protection for transgender students in schools. The plan stated that over 70 percent of children who express gender variant behaviors are subject to bullying in school. Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone [official website] stated that the transgender action plan was "just the first step on this road" [video] and that she hopes that the trans community is happy with the government's efforts.

The rise of hate crimes against LGBT individuals has been an issue throughout the world. In July the Italian Chamber of Deputies [official website, in Italian] rejected legislation [JURIST report] that would have provided greater penalties for hate crimes committed against homosexuals and transsexuals. As a member of the UN Human Rights Council [official website], Italy is a party to the "Human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity" resolution [text, PDF], which was passed [JURIST report] in June. The resolution is the first to call for an end to sexuality discrimination worldwide and to recognize it as a "priority" for the UN. However, the resolution does not address any penalties for violating the act nor is it binding for members. In March, US Representative Jared Polis (D-CO) and Senator Al Franken (D-MN) [official websites] introduced legislation to protect LGBT students [JURIST report] in federally funded public elementary and high schools from bullying. In 2009, US President Barack Obama signed into law [JURIST report] a bill that contained a measure extending the definition of federal hate crimes to include crimes motivated by gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.

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