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Emmanuelle Bribosia and Isabelle Rorive

This chapter reflects the legal battle pursued in Belgium to fight the disturbing legal requirements (such as psychiatrisation, compulsory surgery and sterilisation) to legally changing one’s gender. Yet, giving legal recognition to a trans person’s gender identity is a first and necessary step towards equality and dignity. The Belgian case is highly relevant as the Belgian legal situation is far from isolated and recent major EU survey put Belgium at the forefront of the European countries which discriminate most against trans people when looking for work and in the workplace. The strategies which were developed to successfully challenge the Belgian law were embedded in the Human Rights Integration project. Through the lenses of the work we engaged in the Equality Law Clinic, this chapter explains how important users in the field played a key role in the legislative process. The Belgian law of 25 June 2017, which drastically revises legal gender recognition procedure is the result of a participatory process in which many stakeholders were involved. Trans people were at the core of the reform along with representatives of LGBT organisations, grassroots movements and academics linked to the Equality Law Clinic. The latter was an important player in bringing the legal expertise of an integrated approach to human rights which empowered the stakeholders concerned so as to make their voice heard and to change the law.

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Emmanuelle Bribosia, Ivana Isailovic and Isabelle Rorive

This chapter suggests how the recent IPPF-EN v Italy case on conscientious objection regulation, decided by the European Committee of Social Rights, could be rewritten in light of the integrated nature of different human rights regimes. In this case, the Committee decided that Italy had breached its obligation under article 11 (right to health) and article E (prohibition of discrimination). In a context in which the regulation of the use of conscientious objection by healthcare providers is becoming a divisive legal question globally, the chapter explores two ideas that could have guided the reasoning of the Committee in an attempt to further strengthen the gendered dimension of the decision and issues raised. The chapter argues first that the Committee should have interpreted the right to health in light of other human rights regimes, emphasizing how limits to access to abortion have a specific adverse effect on women’s rights and stressing the various obligations states have in order to ensure women’s enjoyment of the right to health. The second part of the chapter shows the limits of the Committee’s interpretation of the anti-discrimination clause. In particular, it argues that the Committee’s reliance on a male comparator and its narrow interpretation of intersectionality are ill-suited in light of the evolution in domestic and European anti-discrimination regimes.