On February 28, 2014, the United Nations’ Committee for Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) gave powerful recommendations to Finland related to the human rights of lgbti people in its concluding observations of Finland’s seventh periodic report on the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.
Most notably, the Committee is “concerned about the obligation on transgender persons to prove infertility or undergo sterilisation for the legal recognition of their gender under the 2002 Law on Legal Recognition of the Gender of Transsexuals” and recommends Finland to “expeditiously amend the Law on Legal Recognition of the Gender of Transsexuals to ensure that gender recognition is carried out without requiring transgender persons to conform to stereotypical ideas of masculine or feminine appearance or behaviour and that it does not require individuals to consent to sterilization”.
The Committee also welcomes the proposed amendment to the Act on Equality between Women and Men which expands the definition of sex and gender-based discrimination to include discrimination based on gender identity and gender expression. The Committee notes with concern, however, that the Gender Equality Act and the Non-Discrimination Act do not currently provide adequate protection to women against multiple or intersecting forms of discrimination.
In addition, the Committee recommends to Finland to “open rape crisis centres, walk-in centres and 24-hour, free of charge, helplines that provide protection and assistance to all women victims of violence, including migrant women, women with disabilities and women belonging to sexual minorities”.
These and all of the rest of the recommendations given to Finland by the Committee can be found online in English via the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs webpage http://formin.finland.fi/public/default.aspx?contentid=299595&contentlan=1&culture=fi-FI (scroll down to the link “Päätelmät englanniksi”). Later on they will also be available on the webpage of the 57th session of CEDAW http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cedaw/cedaws57.htm. Finland will translate and distribute the recommendations in Finnish later in March.
Several civil society organizations such as Seta, Amnesty International, Coalition of Finnish Women’s Associations (NYTKIS) and the Human Rights Centre (the National Human Rights Institution of Finland) provided the Committee in advance with submissions raising some or all of the above mentioned issues related to the human rights of lgbti people.
The government of Finland will give its next periodic report in 2018 but regarding recommendations related to violence against women, the government will give a report already in 2016.