(WB) Lawmakers in Spain last week voted against a bill that would have allowed transgender people to legally change their gender without medical or psychological interventions.

The Congress of Deputies on May 18 by a 143-78 vote margin with 120 abstentions rejected the "Proposed Law for Real and Effective Equality for Transgender People," which Human Rights Watch in a press release notes “would also have allowed non-binary and blank gender markers on identity documents, acknowledging the rights and dignity of people who do not identify with a rigid gender binary.”

Mané Fernández, vice president of Federación Estatal de Lesbianas, Gays, Transexuales y Bisexuales (FELGTB), a Spanish LGBT advocacy group, on Monday told the Washington Blade during a telephone interview from Gijón, a city in the Asturias region of northern Spain, said Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party and the governing coalition of which it is part promised to introduce the bill.

Trans activists have accused the PSOE of blocking it. The Associated Press in March reported Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo, who is a PSOE member, said the measure could undermine the rights of women and other groups.

Mar Cambrollé Jurado — a trans activist in Spain who is the president of Asociación Trans de Andalucía-Sylvia Rivera, president of Federación Plataforma Trans and RESPETTTRANS’ Europe spokesperson — on Monday noted trans activists began a hunger strike on March 11.

Human Rights Watch in its press release notes all PSOE members of the Congress of Deputies voted against the bill. Cambrollé told the Blade that “it seems to us that Spain, with the Socialist Party’s vote, has set LGBTI rights in Spain back 10 years.”

“It is inconceivable that a party that has a historical trajectory of defending LGBTI rights and social advances has voted against allowing us trans people to have a legal framework that guarantees us equality of opportunities to access basic rights like employment, education, sport,” said Cambrollé. “[It would also] regulate the issue of trans people in prison, protection of children, transmigrants, the recognition of non-binary trans people and specifically provide historic reparations to those trans people who were victims of the [Franco] dictatorship and today live in the utmost precariousness.”

“We are not only talking about the right to self-determination of gender,” Fernández told the Blade.

“We are talking about all that it makes up and about how it affects any person or any citizen in Spain, or children who have to get an education, occupational health and the judiciary,” added Fernández.

Argentina and Malta are among the countries in which trans people can legally change their gender without medical or psychological intervention. Fernández said FELGTB remains optimistic the bill “will be approved” during the current government.


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