Sunday, December 30, 2012

Argentina: New ID's for 1,720 transgender individuals since 2012 law; 5,839 same-sex marriages since 2010 law

In 2010 Argentina became the first Latin American nation to adopt a nation-wide marriage equality law.

This summer, Argentina continued its bid to become the most LGBT-friendly country in the world when it also passed what some call the most progressive gender identity law in the world.

The law requires the public health system to provide adequate health services for transgender individuals and grants them the right to change their name and gender designation on government ID's without having to show proof of gender reassignment surgery or a psychological diagnosis.

[In July I wrote about an extraordinary ceremony in which President Critsina Fernandez de Kirchner publicly and personally handed out the first new ID's processed under the law to a number of transgender leaders].

On Thursday the daily newspaper La Nación took a look at both laws and their impact since their passage and spoke to LGBT-rights advocates about what's next for the movement after these amazing victories.

Marriage equality: According to La Nación the latest government records indicate that 5,839 couples have gotten married in Argentina since the marriage equality law went into effect in July of 2010 with the bulk of them taking place in Buenos Aires and surrounding communities. When ranked per capita, other regions also stand out including Mendoza with 389 weddings (at 22.37 per 100,000 inhabitants), Santa Fé with 664 (20.79/100K) and Córdoba with 632 (19.10/100K).

The national number also includes five foreign couples who traveled to Argentina to get married after a March 2012 ruling by a Santa Fé court allowing foreign nationals to get married under Argentine law. The Argentine LGBT Federation says that they are aware of another 50 foreign couples who have registered to get married in 2013 and say that there is a waiting list for other tourists wishing to do the same.

In an article published earlier this month by UPI they put the numbers of same-sex couples married in Buenos Aires at 1,030 - which is lower than La Nacion's numbers by almost 400 couples - but that might just indicate that they were looking at earlier official estimates. Interestingly they note that of those 1,030 marriages only 191 took place in the first half of 2012 indicating a steep decrease in recent same-sex marriages in the nation's capital.

Gender identity law: As reflected by the graphic above 1,720 Argentine individuals have processed changes to their official identification records to reflect their current name and gender representation (there is an interactive version of the graphic on La Nación's webpage which also includes a separate graphic for same-sex marriages).

Those blue dots represent the per capita ranking of each region and what particularly striking is that there have been transgender individuals who have sought official recognition of their identity even in the most conservative areas of the nation.

La Nación also notes that there are only two hospitals in the entire nation accredited to perform gender reassignment surgeries which has resulted in months-long waiting lines for individuals who want to undergo gender reassignment surgery. Indeed, one of the pending challenges LGBT-rights advocates express in the piece is to expand the number of medical centers and staff accredited to provide health care to transgender individuals.

UPDATE: On December 14, 2012, Argentina's Ministry of Interior and Transportation said that all transgender permanent resident immigrants and refugees would also be covered by the gender identity law.  Additional information on the immigrant-friendly aspect of the policy can be found here.

Pending challenges: Combating bullying in schools & lifting a blood donation ban on gay and bisexual men: As LGBT-rights advocates turn their sights on 2013, they tell La Nación that there are two short-term goals.

First, they would like to work with legislators to develop and present an anti-bullying law that would penalize persecution and harassment of students based on their sexual identity and, second, they would like to put an end to discriminatory policies that bar gay and bisexual men from donating blood.

Second, in November of this year the the lower chamber of congress voted to lift a ban on blood donations by gay and bisexual men by an overwhelming vote of 158 in favor, 2 against and 4 abstentions.  A priority for LGBT-rights advocates will be to secure enough votes for a Senate vote expected to take place in March or April of 2013.

If passed and signed into law, Argentina would follow Mexico as the second country in the American continent to lift blood donor restrictions on gay and bisexual men.  The Mexican restrictions were lifted just last week.


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