Transgender asylum

In the autumn of last year transgender woman Fernanda Milán from Guatemala was refused asylum. But after protests from an asylum Initiative;the T-Refugee Project, and a number of individual campaigners, her case was reexamined by the Refugee Board. She was granted indefinite leave to remain in Denmark as an official refugee on the 26 November 2012, recognised under the UN Refugee Convention. You can read the full article here.

Sexual orientation and gender identity and the protection of forced migrants

Forced MigrationAround the world, people face abuse, arbitrary arrest, extortion, violence, severe discrimination and lack of official protection because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. This latest issue of Forced Migration Review from April 2013, includes 26 articles on the abuse of rights of forced migrants who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex. Authors discuss both the challenges faced and examples of good practice in securing protection for LGBTI forced migrants.

Download the publication (64 pages): Sexual orientation and gender identity and the protection of forced migrants

The Trouble with Tradition

In an excellent article, Human Rights Watch analysis the struggle within the UN system between "values" and "rights". In 2012, two resolutions of interest to this discussion were passed by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).

Read more: The Trouble with Tradition

Håndbog om seksuel orientering og kønsidentitet i udviklingssamarbejde


Hvordan arbejder man med køns- og seksuelle minoriteter i udviklingssamarbejde? Hvorfor er et LGBT-perspektiv vigtigt i rettighedsbaseret udvikling? Hvordan sikrer man mangfoldighed i sin egen organisation?

Denne minihåndbog giver en introduktion til en række aspekter af arbejdet med køns- og seksuelle minoriteter. Den er udgivet oktober 2012 af LGBT Danmark i samarbejde med Sabaah, Dansk Flygtningehjælp og Sex & Samfund.

Download her


  • Retten til et bedre liv. Forord v/ udviklingsminister Christian Friis Bach
  • Menneskerettigheder kan ikke gradbøjes
  • Yogyakartaprincipperne
  • Ord – hvad betyder de?
  • Retten til at være den man er
  • Forfølgelse, flugt og asyl
  • Verdenskort over nationale LGBT-lovgivninger
  • Arven fra Victoria. Kolonisering og kriminalisering
  • Adgang til udvikling for alle
  • Værd at være opmærksom på - i arbejde med LGBT-spørgsmål
  • Fra vanetænkning til handleplan - i organisationen og på arbejdspladsen
  • Mere viden


This list of words and abbreviations for LGBT related issues is an excerpt of ILGA-Europe's glossary (2011), with a few additions and some revisions taken from LGBT Denmark's glossary (in Danish, 2013). It includes terms that can be misused or misunderstood, and thus be counterproductive for the work against discrimination of LGBT people. Do also note that the usage of language changes through time.



Age of consent: The minimum age at which a person is considered to be legally competent of consenting to sexual acts.

Bias crime: see Hate crime

Biphobia: The fear, unreasonable anger, intolerance or/and hatred toward bisexuality and bisexual people (see “Bisexual”). The phobia may exists among heterosexuals, gay men, lesbians, or by bisexuals themselves, and is often related to multiple negative stereotypes of bisexuals centre on the belief that bisexuality does not exist and on the generalisation that bisexuals are promiscuous.

Bisexual: When a person is emotionally and/or sexually attracted to persons of more than one sex.

Cisgender: A term referring to those people whose gender identity and gender expression match the sex they were assigned at birth and the social expectations related to their gender.

Cisnormativity: refers to the practices and institutions that legitimise and privilege those who are comfortable in the gender belonging to the sex assigned to them at birth. On the other hand, this norm systematically disadvantages and marginalises all persons whose gender identity and expression do not meet social expectations.

Civil partnership: see Registered partnership

Civil union: see Registered partnership

Coming-out: The process of revealing the identification of a lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans or intersex person.

Outing: When a person’s identification as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans or intersex person is revealed without consent.

“Being in the closet”: A situation where someone has decided not to be open about his or her sexual orientation (lesbian, gay man, bisexual),gender identity/expression (trans person) and/or sex (intersex person).


Different-sex relationship: is a relationship containing of people of two different sexes. This term is preferred instead of opposite-sex, as it should be avoided as it is based on the wrong assumption that there is only two possible sexes and that they are immutable.

Discrimination: unequal or unfair treatment which can be based on a range of grounds, such as age, ethnic background, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity. Can be divided into four different types of discrimination, which all can lead to victimisation and harassment:

Direct discrimination: a situation where a person is treated less favourably than others on grounds of his or her sexual orientation or gender identity.

Indirect discrimination: where an apparently neutral provision or practice would put persons having a particular sexual orientation or gender identity at a disadvantage compared to others.

Multiple discrimination: based mix on two or several grounds of discrimination such as religion or belief, race, disability, age, gender and gender identity and/or sexual orientation.

Experienced discrimination: also called subjective discrimination, is the experience of being discriminated against. Experienced discrimination does not necessarily entail discrimination in the legal sense.

Victimisation: victimisation is a specific term to mean discrimination against a person because they have made a complaint or been a witness in another person's complaint.

Harassment: any act or conduct that is unwelcome to the victim, which could be regarded in relation to the victim’s sexual orientation, gender identity/expression and/or as offensive, humiliating or intimidating. It can include spoken words, gestures or the production, display or circulation of written words, pictures or other material.

Freedom of assembly: is the right to come together publicly and collectively express, promote, pursue and defend common interests. The right to freedom of assembly is recognised as a human right.

Freedom of association: is the right to form groups, to organise and to assemble together with the aim of addressing issues of common concern. The right to freedom of association is recognised as a human right. Sometimes used interchangeably with Freedom of assembly.

Freedom of expression: Rights of all to express their views and opinions freely without any form of censorship. The right to freedom of expression is recognized as a human right.

FTM: Abbr. of Female-To-Male, most commonly used to refer to a female-tomale trans person. Someone who was assigned female at birth who now identifies as male. Also called a trans man. The term is widely discussed as it is based on the assumption that there are only two possible sexes.


Gay: a person who feels sexual and/or emotional desire exclusively or predominantly for persons of her or his own sex. The term has however been misused to cover all gay men and lesbians (and sometimes even bisexuals). This has been widely discussed, and gay should therefore only be used when it is referring to men are emotionally and/or sexually attracted to other men. If the intention is to cover all without intentional excluding any sexual orientation or gender identity/expression, then it is recommendable not to use only the term gay, and instead use LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex people).

Gender: refers to people’s internal perception and experience of maleness and femaleness, and the social construction that allocates certain behaviours into male and female roles which vary across history, societies, cultures and classes. Gender is hence strongly linked to society's expectations and is not exclusively a biological matter.

Gender expression: refers to people's manifestation of their gender identity, and the one that is perceived by others. Typically, people seek to make their gender expression or presentation match their gender identity/identities, irrespective of the sex that they were assigned at birth.

Gender identity: refers to each person's deeply felt internal and individual experience of gender, which may or may not correspond with the sex assigned at birth, including the personal sense of the body (which may involve, if freely chosen, modifications of bodily appearance or function by medical, surgical or other means) and other expressions of gender, including dress, speech and mannerism (Yogyakarta Principles).

Gender minorities: refers to groups whose gender identity does not correspond with their biological sex and/or does not correspond with societal expectations of their biological sex. It also encompasses groups whose biological sex may be ambiguous, and thus do not fall within an established gender category. The term primarily refers to transgender, transsexual and intersex people. However, any person whose gender expression does not conform to societal expectations of “masculinity” or “femininity”, could also be considered a member of a gender minority group, even if their gender identity corresponds with their biological sex. This is a broad and somewhat opaque term, however it is intended to encompass all those whose gender identity places them outside the normative boundaries of gender expression in a given society. (Source: Lucy Morgan, 2009: "Sexual and Gender Rights and the United Nations Human Rights Framework: Towards a Resolution of the Debate?")

Gendernormativity: (see also Cisnomativity) relates to the practices and institutions that legitimise and privilege those who live in the gender they were assigned at birth. Gendernormativity negatively impacts upon trans people, people who do not identify with either gender, men who are perceived to be more ‘feminine’ than is socially accepted, and women who are perceived to be ‘too masculine’.

Gender reassignment: refers to the process through which people re-defines the gender in which they live in order to better express their gender identity. It is often referred to as a process that may involve medical assistance including hormone therapies and surgical procedures that transpeople undergo to align their body with their gender. This process, however, also includes some or all of the following social and legal adjustments: coming out to family, friends and colleagues; dressing and acting according to one's gender; changing one's name and/or sex on legal documents; and meeting other legal or judicial procedures depending on national law. In P. v S., the ECJ affirmed that gender reassignment is included within the scope of the ground of 'sex' in EU law.

Gender Recognition: A process whereby a trans person’s preferred gender is recognised in law, or the achievement of the process.

Gender Role: How a person expresses himself or herself in terms of traits commonly associated with masculinity and femininity. Gender role is largely a social construct, since every society has different ideas about what sort of dress or behaviour is ‘appropriate’ for males or females.

Gender variant: refers to anyone whose gender varies from normative gender identity and roles of the gender assigned at birth.

Hate crime: Offences that are motivated by hate or by bias against a particular group of people. This could be based, inter alia, on gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, age or disability. Also called bias crime.

Hate speech: Refers to public expressions which spread, incite, promote or justify hatred, discrimination or hostility towards minorities — for example statements by political or religious leaders appearing in the press or the Internet.

Heteronormativity: Reference to cultural and social practices where men and women is being led into believing and behaving as if heterosexuality were the only conceivable sexuality. It also implies the positioning of heterosexuality as the only way of being “normal” and as the key source of social reward.

Heterosexism: The belief, stated or implied, that heterosexuality is superior (religiously, morally, socially, emotionally, behaviourally, and/or in some other way) to other sexualities; the presumption that all people are heterosexual (may be conscious or unconscious); the belief that all people should be heterosexual. As an institutionalised system of oppression, heterosexism negatively affects LGBTI people as well as some heterosexual individuals who do not subscribe to traditional standards of masculinity and femininity.

Heterosexual: People are classified as heterosexual on the basis of their gender and the gender of their sexual partner(s). When the partner’s gender is other than the individual’s, then the person is categorised as heterosexual.

Homophobia: The fear, unreasonable anger, intolerance or/and hatred toward homosexuality. Homophobia can appear in various ways:

Internalised Homophobia: When lesbian, gay men and bisexual people are considering and accepting heterosexuality as the correct way of being and living.

Institutionalised Homophobia: When governments and authorities are acting against equality for LGB people. This can be hate speech from public elected persons, ban on pride events and other forms of discrimination of LGB people.

Homosexual: People are classified as homosexual on the basis of their gender and the gender of their sexual partner(s). When the partner’s gender is the same as the individual’s, then the person is categorised as homosexual. It is recommended to use the terms lesbian and gay men instead of homosexual people. The terms lesbian and gay man are being considered neutral and positive, and the focus is on the identity instead of being sexualised. Lastly, the term homosexual has for many a historical connotation of pathology.

Intersex people: refers to those people who have genetic, hormonal and physical features that are neither exclusively male nor exclusively female, but are typical of both at once or not clearly defined as either. These features can manifest themselves within secondary sexual characteristics such as muscle mass, hair distribution, breasts and stature; primary sexual characteristics such as reproductive organs and genitalia; and/or in chromosomal structures and hormones. This term has replaced the term ‘hermaphrodite’ which was used extensively by medical practitioners during the 18th and 19th centuries.


Lesbian: A woman who is sexually and emotionally attracted to women.

LGBTI: Acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex people.


Marriage equality: where the national marriage legislation also includes samesex couples – e.g. gender neutral reference to the spouses. 8 European countries allow same-sex couples to marry (the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland and Denmark)

MTF: Male-to-female, most commonly used to refer to a male-to-female transperson. Someone who was assigned male at birth but who identifies as female. The term is widely discussed and should be avoided as it is based on the wrong assumption that there is only two possible sexes.

MSM: Abbr. for Men who have Sex with Men. Term used purely in HIV/AIDS prevention, and very rarely in other activist circles. It was coined for prevention purposes where the identity of a person does not matter - only the sexual practice. From that perspective the term MSM is very inclusive – as it includes all men (gay, bisexual, heterosexual, trans or intersex). However it does not include people identifying as women and other identities where a lot of prevention is needed and takes place. Therefore ILGA-Europe does not use the term, and prefers to use LGBTI people. MSM misses out on the impact of discrimination of sexual orientation and gender identity/gender expression when working with health and HIV/AIDS in a bigger picture. ILGA-Europe believe that MSM stigmatises unnecessarily, which can be counterproductive when working with HIV/AIDS prevention.

Out: being openly gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans or intersex person.

Outing: see Coming out


Pride events: Pride events and marches date back to June 1969 to the so-called Stonewall riot, when LGBTI persons in New York protested in the streets for several days against persistent police harassment of LGBTI individuals and venues. The following year, the uprising was commemorated by demonstrations in several American cities, and since then annual demonstrations against homophobia/transphobia and for LGBTI rights have spread around the world.

Queer: has become an academic term that is inclusive of people who are not heterosexual - includes lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and trans. Queer theory is challenging heteronormative social norms concerning gender and sexuality, and claims that gender roles are social constructions. For many LGBTI persons, the term "queer" has negative connotations as it was traditionally an abusive term, however many LGBTI persons are now comfortable with the term and have "reclaimed" it as a symbol of pride.

Rainbow: A symbol celebrating the uniqueness and diversity within the LGBTI community. The flag has six stripes, each a different colour, ranging from purple to red.

Registered partnership: A legal recognition of relationships however is not always with the same benefits as marriage - synonymous with a civil union or civil partnership. 16 countries (however only some regions in Spain) allow same–sex couples to register their partnerships.


Same-sex relationships or couples: covers relationships or couples consisting of two people of the same sex.

Same-sex marriage: is generally a misunderstanding, as the term does not exist in reality. There is no country which has or will intend to make a specific marriage law for solely for same-sex couples. The aim is to change existing marriage laws, so same-sex couples are included equally with differentsexcouples. See Marriage equality.

Sex: refers to the biological makeup such as primary and secondary sexual characteristics, genes, and hormones. The legal sex is usually assigned at birth and has traditionally been understood as consisting of two mutually exclusive groups, namely men and women. However, "[t]he Court of Justice has held that the scope of the principle of equal treatment for men and women cannot be confined to the prohibition of discrimination based on the fact that a person is of one or other sex. In view of its purpose and the nature of the rights which it seeks to safeguard, it also applies to discrimination arising from the gender reassignment of a person.1" In addition to the above, the legal definition of sex should also include intersex people.

Sexism: is the belief or attitude that one sex is inherently superior to, more competent than, or more valuable than other sex. It can also include this type of discrimination in regards to gender. Sexism primarily involves hatred of, or prejudice towards, either sex as a whole or the application of stereotypes of masculinity in relation to men identities, or of femininity in relation to women identities. Sexism has a parallel root to homo-, bi- and transphobia.

Sexual minorities: refers to groups whose sexual orientation is not strictly heterosexual, or whose sexuality is not exclusively expressed through heterosexual relations. Those who identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual are the most readily identifiable sexual minority groups, however the term can include anyone who engages in same-sex sexual relations, even if they may identify as heterosexual. (Source: Lucy Morgan, 2009: "Sexual and Gender Rights and the United Nations Human Rights Framework: Towards a Resolution of the Debate?")

Sexual orientation: refers to each person’s capacity for profound emotional, affectional and sexual attraction to, and intimate and sexual relations with,individuals of a different gender or the same gender or more than one gender.

Transgender: refers to people whose gender identity or gender expression is to some degree not in coherence with their biological gender at birth. Being transgender is independent from a persons sexual orientation. See also Trans Person/People/Man/Woman.

Transition: see Gender reassignment.

Transsexual: refers to people who identifies entirely with the gender role opposite to the sex assigned to them at birth and seeks to live permanently in their preferred gender role. Transsexual people might intend to undergo, are undergoing or have undergone gender reassignment treatment (which may or may not involve hormone therapy or surgery). Being transsexual is independent from a persons sexual orientation.

Trans Person/People/Man/Woman: is an inclusive umbrella term referring to those people whose gender identity and/or a gender expression differs from the sex they were assigned at birth. It includes, but is not limited to: men and women with transsexual pasts, and people who identify as transsexual, transgender, transvestite/cross-dressing, androgyne, polygender, genderqueer, agender, gender variant or with any other gender identity and/or expression which is not standard male or female and express their gender through their choice of clothes, presentation or body modifications, including undergoing multiple surgical procedures.

Transphobia: refers to negative cultural and personal beliefs, opinions, attitudes and behaviors based on prejudice, disgust, fear and/or hatred of transpeople or against variations of gender identity and gender expression. Institutional transphobia manifests itself though legal sanctions, pathologisation and inexistent/inadequate mechanisms to counter violence and discrimination. Social transphobia manifests itself in the forms of physical and other forms of violence, hate speech, discrimination, threats, marginalisation, social exclusion exoticisation, ridicule and insults.


Victimisation: See Discrimination.

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