Ecuador: Action Alert – Transgender Activists Dismissed from their Jobs

The rights violated in this case include: the right to be free from discrimination, the right to freedom of expression and the right to be protected as a human rights defender.

The Issue

On November 29, 2008, transgender activists Mía Albarracín and Diane Rodriguez, were fired from their jobs at Hotel Oro Verde, where each had been employed as a bilingual cashier. The dismissals came one day after Ms. Albarracín and Ms. Rodriguez had attended an event for the transgender community at the Ministry of the Litoral in Guayaquil. The event—a roundtable discussion on the increase in HIV/AIDS in the transgender population and a cultural fair for transgender women—was widely publicized beforehand and organized by the group Silueta X, which Ms. Rodriguez leads. We strongly suspect that the activists’ dismissal is related to their attendance at this event.

Ms. Rodriguez was fired during the process of transitioning from male to female—a process she began while working at Hotel Oro Verde. Hotel management initially claimed that her dismissal was for economic reasons and tried to get her to sign voluntary resignation papers. After she refused, management claimed that she had not successfully completed her trial period of employment, misrepresenting her satisfactory job performance until this time. She has filed a charge of discrimination with the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Labor and Ombudsman of Ecuador.

Take Action

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) joins Silueta X in requesting that you send emails or faxes asking Ecuadorian authorities to quickly investigate the alleged discrimination, compensate the victims fairly, and take all necessary measures to ensure that similar acts of discrimination are not repeated in the future. Feel free to cut and paste our letter (enclosed) as a sample and contact the individuals listed below. Please send your letters to:

Dr. Anrtonio Gagliardo
Ministro de Trabajo y Empleo
E mail: mitrab@accessinter.net
Dr. Gustavo Jalkh
Ministro de Justicia y Derechos Humanos
E mail: webmaster@minjusticia-ddee.gov.ec
Sra. Jeannette Sanchez
Ministerio de Inclusion Economica y Social
E-mail: ris@mies.gov.ec
Sr. Fernando Xavier Gutierrez
VeraDefensor del Pueblo de Ecuador
E-mail: fernando.gutierrez@defensordelpueblo.gov.ec

Please also send a copy of your letter to:

Diane Klein Rodriguez - Silueta
Xdiane@siluetaX.com
Fernando D'Elio - IGLHRC
fdelio@iglhrc.org

Sample Letter

Dr. Gagliardo,

I write on behalf of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) to bring your attention to a situation that we believe requires the intervention of your office. On November 29, 2008, two women, Mía Albarracín and Diane Rodriguez, were fired from their jobs at Hotel Oro Verde. Each had been employed as a bilingual cashier. We strongly suspect that their dismissal was related to the fact that they had attended a widely publicized event for the transgender community the day before. The group hosting the event, Silueta X, is headed by Ms. Rodriguez.

Transgender people regularly encounter employment discrimination—ranging from harassment in the workplace to being demoted or dismissed because they fail to conform to gender stereotypes. Diane Rodriguez’s case is a particularly egregious example of discrimination because she was fired during the process of transitioning from male to female—a process she started after beginning work at Hotel Oro Verde. In Diane’s case, hotel management initially claimed that her dismissal was for economic reasons and tried to get her to sign voluntary resignation papers. After she refused, management claimed that Diane had not successfully completed her trial period of employment, misrepresenting her satisfactory job performance until this time.

The new and democratically approved Ecuadorian constitution specifically protects the rights of transgender people. Article 11 Inc. 2 of the first chapter of Title II states that, "All persons are considered equal and will enjoy the same rights, freedoms and opportunities, without discrimination whatsoever on the grounds of birth, age, sex, gender identity, cultural identity, marital status, ethnicity, color, social origin, language, religion, political affiliation, economic status, sexual orientation, health status, HIV status, disability or any other sort of difference."

Moreover, as a signatory to international declarations and treaties which assure the right to non-discrimination, the right to equality before the law, and the right to freedom of expression, it is Ecuador's obligation to ensure that human rights violations are fully investigated. This is required in all cases, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

We ask that you act quickly to investigate the alleged discrimination, compensate the victims fairly, and take all necessary measures to ensure that similar acts of discrimination are not repeated in the future. We also request that your ministry put pressure on Hotel Oro Verde and its parent company Hotver SA to adopt an anti-discrimination policy that explicitly protects sexual orientation and gender identity.

We trust that you will give this issue the attention it deserves.

Sincerely,

Paula Ettelbrick

Cc: Dr. Gustavo Jalkh, Sra. Jeannette Sanchez, Sr. Fernando Xavier Gutierrez