Women and Justice: Keywords

Domestic Case Law

Foy v. Registrar General & Attorney General High Court of Ireland (2007)

Gender discrimination, International law, LGBTIQ

In 2007, the High Court held that the failure to allow the applicant, a transgender woman who had undergone gender-affirming surgery, to obtain a new birth certificate recording her gender as female violated her rights under Article 8 and 12 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which had been made part of Irish law, despite having found in previous proceedings involving the same applicant that her constitutional right to privacy was not disproportionately or excessively infringed. The Court agreed with the applicant that existing Irish law barred the effective recognition of her Article 8 and 12 rights in Ireland as they rendered her without the power to correct or vary the original entry on her birth certificate. The High Court considered the European Court of Human Right’s 2002 decisions in Goodwin v. United Kingdom and I. v. United Kingdom, in which the Court held that the State’s failure to have a system of law in place affording proper respect for a trans person’s Convention rights violated Articles 8 and 12 of the Convention.

R v. Soko and Another Chief Resident Magistrate's Court (2010)


The two accused persons were charged and convicted of having carnal knowledge against the order of nature –contrary to Section 153(a) of the Penal Code, which is understood to prohibit same-sex sexual relations. In the alternative, the two accused persons were charged with indecent practices between men contrary to Section 156 of the Penal Code. Both of the accused persons pleaded not guilty but were convicted of both charges and sentenced to the maximum penalty of 14 years of imprisonment including hard labor. The two accused persons had conducted a traditional engagement ceremony, or chinkhoswe. They held themselves out to be husband and wife, and the second accused person identified as a woman but the court consistently referred to her as a man. The court found that both accused committed the crimes charged. In sentencing the two accused persons to the maximum punishment available, the court cited their perceived lack of remorse and their attempt to “seek heroism […] in public, and […] corrupting the mind of a whole nation with a chinkhoswe ceremony.” The court explicitly described the sentences of 14 years imprisonment with hard labor as deterrents so that the public could be “protected from others who may be tempted to emulate their [horrendous] example.” In closing, the court stated, “let posterity judge this judgment.” According to multiple news sources (e.g., the BBC), the President of Malawi pardoned both accused persons and they were subsequently released from prison with a warning not to resume their relationship.

Case No. 3488-17 – A. v. the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare Kammarrätten Dom i Stockholm (Court of Appeal in Stockholm) (2017)


The court ruled that a person who was designated male at birth, but who had undergone sex reassignment therapy and who had changed their legal identity to female has the right to change their legal identity back to male, despite having female genitalia. The court further held that Section 1 of the Swedish Gender Identification Act can be applied in this situation (i.e., where a person would like to change his or her legal identity back to a previous legal identity after having undergone sex reassignment therapy). Section 1 of the Swedish Gender Identification Act provides the test for changing one’s gender identity as follows: (i) the person feels that they belong to the opposite sex, (ii) the person has been acting in accordance with the desired gender identity, (iii) the person can be expected to live with the chosen gender identity in the future, and (iv) the person is above 18 years old. The Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare and the Stockholm Administrative Court denied the petition, arguing that due to the applicant’s previous sex change it cannot be expected that the applicant will continue to live with the chosen identity. On appeal, the Stockholm Administrative Court of Appeal found (a) that it was possible to apply Section 1 of the Swedish Gender Identification Act in a case where a person would like to change his or her legal identity back to a previous legal identity, and (b) that the fact that the applicant had previously gone through a sex change did not indicate that the now-chosen gender identity will not be maintained in the future. Therefore, the Court of Appeal allowed the change of identity.

Applicants McEwan, Clarke, et al. v. Attorney General High Court of the Supreme Court of Judicature (2013)

Gender discrimination, LGBTIQ

On February 6, 2009, four transgender individuals (A, B, C, D) identifying as female were arrested and charged with both Loitering and Wearing Female Attire. The police detained the Applicants for the entire weekend without explaining the charges against them. Wearing Female Attire is prohibited under Section 153(1)(XLV11) of the Summary Jurisdiction (Offences) Act, chapter 8:02. At the hearing on February 9, 2009, the Chief Magistrate commented that the Applicants were confused about their sexuality and told them they were men, not women, and needed to give their lives to Jesus Christ. The Applicants, who were all unrepresented at the time, pleaded guilty to the charge of Wearing Female Attire. Applicants A, B and D were fined $7,500, and Applicant C was fined $19,500 (Guyanese dollars). The loitering charges were eventually dismissed. The Applicants contacted the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD), the Equal Rights Trust’s Guyanese partner, about the case. SASOD agreed to represent Applicants and filed a Notice of Motion challenging the Magistrate’s Court decision and seeking redress. The Applicants argued that the police violated the Constitution because the officers failed to inform them of their arrest and did not permit the Applicants to retain counsel. They also argued that Section 153 (1) (XLV11) of the Summary Jurisdiction (Offences) Act 1893 is: (1) vague and of uncertain scope; (2) irrational and discriminatory on the ground of sex; and (3) a continuing threat to their right to protection against discrimination on the ground of sex and gender under the Constitution. Applicants further argued that, by instructing the Applicants to attend Church and give their lives to Jesus Christ, the Chief Magistrate discriminated against them on the basis of religion, which violated a fundamental norm of the Co-operative of the Republic of Guyana as a secular state in contravention to the Constitution. The Court upheld the Applicants’ claims in relation to their fundamental right to be informed of the reason for their arrest under Article 139 of the Constitution, but rejected all of their other claims. The Court found that the prohibition of cross-dressing for an improper purpose was not unconstitutional gender or sex discrimination, impermissibly vague, or undemocratic. The Court also struck SASOD’s application in full, finding that SASOD did not have standing to be an applicant in the case.


Zakon o azilu (Law on Asylum) (2016)

Gender discrimination, International law, LGBTIQ

This law sets the procedure for granting refugee status; the status of subsidiary protection; cessation and revocation of a refugee status and the status of subsidiary protection; temporary protection, identification documents; the rights and obligations of asylum-seekers, refugees, and aliens under subsidiary protection; and other issues related to asylum in BiH. Article 9 of the Law on Asylum enhances the protection of women as it prohibits the discrimination of aliens on all grounds stipulated in the Law on the Prohibition of Discrimination, including sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, and sexual characteristics. English translation available through RefWorld External URL.

Ligji Nr. 05/L -020 Për Barazi Gjinore (Law No. 05/L -020 on Gender Equality) (2015)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination, LGBTIQ, Sexual harassment

Law No. 05/L-020 on Gender Equality promotes gender equality, by defining the relevant concepts, setting forth various measures to protect equal rights of genders, and specifying the institutions responsible for gender equality. The Law defines “woman” and “man” as including any person who considers oneself as such, and describes gender identity – which does not require medical intervention – as a “protected characteristic.” Direct and indirect gender discrimination are prohibited under the Law, including less favorable treatment of women for reasons of pregnancy, maternity, or sexual orientation, and gender-based violence. Harassment and sexual harassment are also forbidden, and whether a person refuses or surrenders to such behavior shall not be used as a basis for a decision affecting that person in a legal proceeding. The Law directs the Kosovo institutions to implement various general measures to achieve gender equality in Kosovo, including gender mainstreaming in all policies and legislation, gender budgeting in all areas, and ensuring recruitment and appointment are consistent with the requirement for equal representation of women and men. In areas where inequities exist, public institutions are further instructed by the Law to take temporary special measures to accelerate the realization of gender equality, including quotas, preferential treatment, hiring, and promotion. The Law in particular requires legislative, executive, and judicial bodies at all levels to adopt special measures until equal gender representation is achieved. The Law establishes an Agency for Gender Equality to support the implementation of the Law, and further mandates that all ministries and municipalities must appoint gender equality officials, and allocate sufficient resources from their budget, to implement the Law. Discrimination on bases including sex, pregnancy, or birth, is prohibited in employment matters including access to employment or training, and working conditions. In regard to education, the Law proscribes sex discrimination in access to education and scholarships, evaluation results, and attainment of degrees, and mandates the inclusion of gender equality education in school curricula at all levels. Persons who believe the principle of equal treatment has not been implemented in relation to them may initiate proceeding in accordance with the Law on Protection from Discrimination. Violations of the Law are punishable by fines of up to 700 Euros for individuals, and 900 Euros for legal entities. (Unoffocial English version available here.)