The Scottish Government introduced the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill in the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday, 26 June 2013. The Bill would introduce same-sex marriage and also make various general changes to the law on marriage and civil partnerships. The Bill includes a spousal veto that amends the 2004 Gender Recognition Act to allow a spouse to block their spouse’s acquisition of a full Gender Recognition Certificate. The UK passed a law this summer with a similar spousal veto.
Transgender activists like Sarah Brown and Natacha Kennedy are upset that PinkNews gave a Politician of the Year award to Tina Stowell, Baroness Stowell of Beeston. Baroness Stowell, who championed marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples in the UK, is allegedly “transphobic” because the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Bill amended the Gender Recognition Act 2004 such that if a married person wishes to transition and gain their full Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC), they must gain the consent of their spouse for the marriage to continue.
Trans advocates argued that this “effectively gives a huge amount of control over the issuing of the full GRC to the spouse,” with no regard for the infringement on the rights of the spouse being coercively stuck in a same-sex marriage. Given that there are more Males who transition to “Female” than the opposite, Baroness Stowell’s refusal to bow to transgender demands to “drop the spousal veto” offers protection to Women. The spousal veto puts the burden on men who seek to become transwomen to initiate a divorce. The spousal veto also serves as a reminder to men not to marry women if they plan to transition. Finally, without the veto, the wife could be sued for divorce if she refused to have “lesbian sex” with her husband-turned-wife, on the grounds of “unreasonable behavior” of denying sex to her “wife.”
We support Baroness Stowell’s refusal to disregard the rights on nontransitioning spouses.
Heli Hämäläinen, is a Finnish national who was born in 1963 and lives in Helsinki. Hämäläinen underwent male-to-female gender reassignment surgery in 2009 and, having previously changed her first names, wished to obtain a new identity number that would indicate her female gender in her official documents. However, in order to do so her marriage to a woman would have had to be turned into a civil partnership, which she refused to accept. The applicant complains that making the full recognition of her new gender conditional on the transformation of her marriage into a civil partnership violates her rights under Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life), Article 12 (right to marry) and Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) of the European Convention on Human Rights. In its Chamber judgment of 13 November 2012, the Court held unanimously that there had been:
– no violation of Article 8 of the European Convention;
– no violation of Article 14 read in conjunction with Article 8; and,
– that there was no need to examine the case under Article 12.
Hämäläinen appealled to the Grand Chamber; the appeal is pending.
Two prison inmates are appealing the recent dismissal of their lawsuit against the Nebraska prison system, which they say won’t let them marry. Harold Wilson and Gracy Sedlak, formerly John Jirovsky (now released), challenged the constitutionality of Nebraska Initiative Measure 416, an amendment voters passed in 2000 defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
A transgender woman in Hong Kong won a court appeal allowing her to marry her boyfriend and forcing the government to rewrite the city’s marriage laws. The woman in her 30s, known in the Court of Final Appeal as “W” under anonymity rules, successfully overturned earlier verdicts that said marriage is only allowed between couples who were of the opposite sex at birth.
W, who underwent sex realignment surgery more than five years ago at government expense, argued that her post-operative sex was recognised by the law and that previous rulings were a violation of her constitutional rights. The city’s Registrar of Marriages had argued that she could not wed her boyfriend because her birth certificate – which cannot be altered under Hong Kong law – said she was male.
“It is contrary to principle to focus merely on biological features fixed at the time of birth,” the court said in a written judgement by the panel of five judges. It added that existing laws “impair the very essence of W’s right to marry”.”
A Lincoln, Nebraska inmate, Harold Wilson, who is a convicted rapist and murderer, and his significant other, a transgender woman named Gracy Sedlak, formerly John Jirovsky, have sued the Nebraska prison system, saying they should be allowed to get married so Sedlack can visit him in prison. Sedlak, 27, cannot visit Wilson now because of a Nebraska Department of Correctional Services rule that puts a three-year waiting period on former inmates visiting prisons. Sedlak, a male-to-female transgender person, was discharged from parole in March 2012 for theft, burglary and other misdemeanor charges.
The European Court of Human Rights recently ruled that a Finnish law invalidating the marriage of a post-operative transsexual if she registered her new gender identity did not violate any rights guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights. H., a male, married a woman. Subsequently, he decided to “become a woman,” underwent surgery and took legal steps to present himself as a woman. He also wished to change his identity number in the Finnish population register that officially records an individual’s sex. The applicant found that he was unable to do this because of provisions in the Act on Confirmation of the Gender of a Transsexual. That Act provides that a person’s sex can be changed in the population register only if he or she “is not married or in a civil partnership” or, under Section 2, if the person to who they are partnered or married provides their consent. Under Finnish law, only opposite-sex couples can wed; same-sex couples have civil partnerships. Because’s H.’s wife refused to consent, he unsuccessfully sued in Finnish courts. He then sued under the convention. Specifically, he claimed, among other claims, that Article 3 of the convention — which provides that “[n]o one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” — was violated by the Finnish law, because the complications of changing his sex constituted torture. The court rejected this claim.