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BOLIVIA
Gender Identity Law is now a reality
Latinamerica Press
5/27/2016
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Bolivia now has a law that allows people to change name and sexual identity.

The office of the United Nations (UN) in Bolivia extended its congratulations to the Bolivian government “for bringing into force the Gender Identity Law that permits the transsexual and transgender population of the country to exercise their right to personal identity, change their name and sex designation in all their identity documents according to their self-defined identity.”

This change allows transsexual and transgender people to exercise their fundamental rights like to vote, to education, health, work and housing, among others,” the UN stated in a communiqué published on May 24.

Law 807 of Gender Identity was approved on May 18 and enacted two days later by the Executive branch.

“This is democracy,” Vice-President Álvaro García Linera said in the enactment ceremony. “For the first time the State guarantees their social recognition as persons with rights regardless of their sexual orientation.”

The law defines gender identity as “the individual experience of gender as each person feels it, lives it and exercises it before society, which may or may not correspond to the sex designated at birth. This includes the individual experience of the body, which may imply freely chosen physical changes in body appearance by medical, surgical or other means.”

Also, it considers as transsexual a person who has undergone a sex change using surgery methods, while transgender are those who identify themselves with the opposite sex but who do not wish to receive gender reassignment surgery.

García Linera called on transgender people to continue with their struggle and continue to raise awareness “because their recognition in the state entities will not come easy as they have been marked by prejudice for centuries.” In addition, he called on them to denounce the state’s bureaucracy if their requirements are not addressed.

The law consists of 11 articles and includes the reversal of the decision.

“The change of name, sex and image may be reversed only once, after which they cannot modify the information again; in the case of a reversal, the name, sex and image information returns as it was originally,” the law states.

It also prohibits the use of personal documents used prior to the change of gender identity, and establishes penalties for those who denigrate or discriminate against transsexual or transgender people, in compliance with Law 045 Against Racism and all Forms of Discrimination.

At the forefront
In November last year, the Ministry of Justice submitted the Gender Identity bill to the National Assembly.

“The Ministry of Justice has worked with different ministries and different institutions regarding this project, which establish the procedure for changing the name and sex information for transsexual and transgender people,” said Justice Minister Virginia Velasco.

Among the requirements to be submitted by persons 18 years or older who wish to change their gender identity is to provide the original name and initially registered sex designation and the new name and sexual identity, civil status and descendants documents, criminal background and include a current photograph with the image that corresponds to the new identity. A psychological examination certifying that the applicant is fully aware of his new status is also required.

It also establishes that public and private institutions where identity data are properly recorded will have three months to adapt their internal regulations and procedures.

In a statement, the Bolivian Catholic Church described the law as “an insult to our entire Bolivian nation. It is an attack on its identity, its values and the existence of the indigenous communities of the Nation.” Likewise, evangelical representatives rejected the law because it goes “against biblical principles, against family and against the Constitution.”

For Tamara Nuñez del Prado, a trans activist, “this is historical, we can now be acknowledged, we can enjoy all the benefits that were denied to us.”

“This bill puts Bolivia in the forefront of international law, as only 41 countries worldwide have similar laws, including, Uruguay, Panama and Argentina in the region,” the UN said.

According to the UN, Chile and Cuba are already on track to have a similar law. Although there is no legislation on gender identity in Ecuador, the decisions of the Ombudsman Office in this regard are binding, as well as the judgments of the Constitutional Court of Colombia. Mexico City has a statute that recognizes gender identity of trans people. –Latinamerica Press.


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