The European Commission has proposed a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on combating violence against women and domestic violence which is currently being considered in the European Parliament.
The new law is currently being discussed in the European Parliament by the Civil Liberties Committee and the Women's Rights and Gender Equality Committee. While we welcome the initiative of the two EP Rapporteurs, Frances Fitzgerald & Evin Incir, to include two amendments to the Commission's proposal addressing the need for single sex spaces in shelters, we are concerned that this will not solve the fundamental problem.
In many countries today, the recognition of gender-identity now means a legal sex change. Therefore the notion of "single-sex spaces'' in the proposed amendments remains ambiguous. In reality these will be "gender-identified spaces", which means these spaces would actually be mixed-sex. This could lead many vulnerable women to self-exclude from these services, for reasons of dignity, privacy and safety. It would moreover specifically discriminate against women who because of their religious or other respected beliefs will not share mixed-sex spaces with males in situations where they undress or are vulnerable. Where such self-exclusion is impossible, as in prisons, this situation would mean an even worse violation of women's human rights.
We welcome the specific recognition and protection in the directive of LGBTQI+ and other victims who are targeted because of their non-conformity to stereotypical cultural/patriarchal norms. However, we don't think everyone's interests are best served by conflating this group with the group of women, who are targeted on the basis of their sex class. A specific analysis may apply and specific solutions and services may be needed to reach equity in the law.
As this proposed law progresses through the EU legislative process, we would like to see the following points addressed:
a clear definition & need for “single sex services” i.e. separate services provided to persons of the same sex as that observed /recorded at birth
guaranteed provision of single sex support services such as rape counselling and shelters alongside gender-identity based services
strengthened guarantees that Article 11 of the EU Charter on Fundamental Rights applies to gender critical speech
prevention measures that include single sex spaces such as prisons and hospital wards
educational and training programmes which recognise the importance and material reality of sex
collection of accurate sex-based data on health, discrimination, employment, and crime, that may be supplemented by additional gender-based data.
Read the full set of amendments proposed by WORIADS to the draft Directive, and the background document, here: