5 Terrible Anti-Trans Laws From Around The World

by Georgina Lawton

Despite the fact that transgender rights seem to be more prevalent in society and media discourse in many parts of the Western world than ever before, anti-trans laws around the world continue to discriminate against and oppress trans and LGBTQ people on a massive scale. Trans activitsts and allies have been working tirelessly to highlight the injustices faced by gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender, queer, and intersex people around the world, and there's definitely a gradual, progressive shift in thinking on trans issues; the upshot is that today, trans people and other LGBTQ people are experiencing greater visibility. But despite this, we still have a heck of a long way to go until the right to equality is a reality for trans people by all global governments without battle, oppression, and interrogation.

Amazingly, just this week, Denmark became the very first country in the world to declassify being transgender as a mental illness — and the very fact that they're the first country to do so is shocking in and of itself. Despite the fact that we are actually living in 2016, the World Health Organization still regards self-identifying as transgender as a mental illness. While gender dysphoria is a very real thing, it's absurd that simply being transgender is classified as an illness. It's not unlike when homosexuality was included in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM) — an inclusion which wasn't removed until the 1970s. Yeah. Seriously.

Furthermore, when we examine the range of outdated, oppressive anti-trans laws around the world, it indicates that we still have an incredible amount of work to do with regards to respect, understanding, equality, and visibility for trans people. Here are five of the worst anti-trans laws that are making the lives of trans people even more difficult around the world right now.

1. Russia's Ban On “Propaganda Of Non-Traditional Sexual Relationships”

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The European section of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Association (ILGA) rated Russia as the second worst country in Europe for LGBTQ citizens in their 2016 annual Rainbow Europe survey. In 2013, President Putin passed a new federal law banning the “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships” to minors. The law seeks to ban any relationship which threatens the patriarchal family unit, all whilst claiming the intent is to “protect” children in the country.

2. Malaysia’s Ban On Cross-Dressing

In November of 2014, the Putrajaya Court of Appeal struck down a ban on cross-dressing in Negeri Sembilan, saying that it was "degrading, oppressive, and inhuman." But in 2015, the court reversed that ruling, meaning that violating the law is punishable by up to three years in jail time. Human rights group Human Rights Watch has rated Malaysia as one of the worst countries in the world to be a transgender person.

3. Nigeria's Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Bill

In recent years, anti-LGBTQ laws in Nigeria have gained traction in the public sphere, with politicians adopting a discriminatory rhetoric to boost their popularity in a culture where as many as 87 percent of the Nigerian population are opposed to gay rights as revealed in a 2015 opinion poll. In 2014, President Goodluck Jonathan signed into law the "Same Sex (Marriage) Prohibition Bill" which makes the lives not only of trans people, but of the entire LGBTQ community, more difficult by imposing a prison sentence of up to 10 years for any Nigerian caught kissing a member of the same sex in public, or found to belong to any LGBTQ-related organisation.

4. North Carolina's HB2 law

In May of this year, North Carolina House Bill 2 made it illegal for trans people to use public restrooms correlating to their gender identity; the bill states that restroom usage must correspond to the sex noted on people's birth certificates.

5. Mississippi's House Bill 1523

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In April 2016, Mississippi signed in House Bill 1523, which allows businesses and religious groups to refuse services LGBTQ people ranging from therapy to wedding planning and from adoption support to housing, all based on "religious freedom." Images: Wikimedia Commons (2); peternguyen11/Pixabay