Activists parade during the “March of Diversity” campaigning for the comprehensive trans law in 2017. (MIGUEL ROJO/AFP/Getty)
When conservatives in Uruguay campaigned to repeal a law that provides essential protections for trans people, a vast majority of population stopped it from happening.
Trans people have been able to legally change their gender since 2009, but in 2018 the “Comprehensive Law for Trans People (Ley Integral Para Personas Trans)” was passed.
The law allowed trans people, including minors, to legally self-identify their gender without medical treatment, surgery or any kind of diagnosis.
It also included financial compensation for trans people who persecuted under Uruguay’s dictatorship, and made sure that they had access to housing, health care, employment and educational scholarships.
Conservative opposition congressman Carlos Iafigliola led the campaign to have the 2018 law repealed.
In order to have a referendum on repealing the law, a pre-referendum vote had to be held and a minimum of 25 percent turnout was required.
Less that 10 percent of Uruguay’s population voted in the pre-referendum, stopping the campaign in its tracks.
Federico Graña from the Uruguayan Ministry of Social Development told Reuters that many people in Uruguay “did not want to express support for a referendum that would take rights away.”
“I think it sends a message of great respect,” he said.
Uruguay is one of the most liberal countries in South America for LGBT+ rights
The basis of Iafigliola’s campaign was that allowing minors to legally change their gender was taking away constitutional parental rights, and that children would be undergoing hormone treatment.
According to Reuters, the Uruguayan Medical Union (SMU) said in a statement: “In no case have these interventions been practiced in children. The arguments that are being used to promote the repeal of this law are false, generating misinformation and confusion.”
The part of the law that allows minors to legally change their gender without parental consent is meant for adolescents who are not living at home, and to receive limited hormonal treatment they must have a state-appointed guardian to take their case to court, Graña told Reuters.
Uruguay is one of the most liberal countries in South America when it comes to LGBT+ rights, although trans people still face violence.
In Uruguay, gay sex was decriminalised in 1933, same-sex civil unions were legalised in 2008 and same-sex marriage was made legal in 2013.
Gay people are able to openly serve in the military, and same-sex couples have been able to adopt since 2009.