Federal appeals court rules transgender immigrant protected under torture convention

Federal appeals court rules transgender immigrant protected under torture convention

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] Thursday that a transgender immigrant was protected from being deported to Mexico under the UN Convention Against Torture (CAT) [text]. Edin Avendano-Hernandez petitioned the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) [official website] to withhold removal to Mexico based on repeated instances of physical and sexual abuse by Mexican police officers and military officials in her home country. The opinion stated that the BIA correctly relied on Avendano-Hernandez’s driving under the influence and causing bodily harm to another felony charge to deny withholding removal, but failed to correctly differentiate between sexual orientation and gender identity in denying protection under CAT. The court found that the country conditions and probability of continued torture would not be prevented by Mexico’s new anti-discrimination laws and made an important distinction between the history of violence towards transgender individuals and the gay and lesbian community.

Transgender rights remain a controversial issue throughout the world. US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter in July announced [JURIST report] a comprehensive plan to move in the direction of allowing transgender troops to serve in the military. Also in July Ireland passed the Gender Recognition Bill [JURIST report] to allow transgender people over 18 legal recognition of their preferred gender and changes in their birth certificate. In November, Malaysia’s Court of Appeals in Putrajaya struck down [JURIST report] an anti-crossdressing law in a challenge filed by three transgender women. In May 2013 Hong Kong’s Court of Final Appeal ruled [JURIST report] that a law prohibiting a transgender woman from marrying her boyfriend was invalid under the Chinese constitution. Canadian lawmakers approved a bill [JURIST report] in March of 2013 that would outlaw discrimination against transgender individuals.