Finally: Forced sterilizations removed from the Swedish legislation
Today, May 22nd, in the afternoon the Swedish Parliament voted to finally remove the mandatory legal requirement of sterilization for those who want to change their legal gender. The change enters into force on July 1 of this year.
Although the legal requirement has not been applied since January 10 of this year, when the decision of the Court of Appeal in Stockholm took effect, today’s decision is obviously extremely important. The Court found that the claim was contrary to the Constitution and the European Convention, which was also mentioned by several members in today’s debate, says Ulrika Westerlund, President of RFSL.
Today’s vote marks the end of a very long work from the LGBTQ and trans movement to change an outdated law, which stems from a time when the approach to human rights was different. The Act came into force in 1972, when Sweden also forcibly sterilized other groups.
But much remains to be done before the law respects all trans people and allows everyone to live their lives according to their own will.
Now that the forced sterilization requirement is removed, it is vital that we continue to work to improve the law, including by removing the age limit of 18 to change a person’s legal gender. In today’s parliamentary debate before the decision the age limit was discussed and the government parties argued that the matter is investigated within the Government Offices right now. We will of course follow up on this, says Emelie Mire Åsell, President of RFSL Ungdom, the Swedish Youth Federation for LGBTQ Rights.
Even though the forced sterilization requirement is removed, more changes are needed for many trans people to become biological parents. Embryo donation must be allowed so trans men can get the same opportunity as other men to donate gametes to their partner. The so-called presumption of paternity also needs to be gender-neutral. This is needed for several reasons, but among other things since no longer only legal men can contribute genetically to the children born within a marriage.
The legal gender change also needs to be fully applied. For example, a person who has legally changed gender must be able to have that reflected in their children’s data in the population registration and the confidentiality of data of the authorities must be protected. Major health care reforms are needed as well, in terms of access to care for all who need and want it, and in terms of the quality of care offered.
Tonight RFSL, RFSL Ungdom, KIM, FPES and DU, the Anti-Discrimination Office of Uppsala, celebrate the parliamentary decision, but we are also continuing our work together for redress for those who have already been sterilized. Before the summer we will submit our claims for forced sterilization to the Chancellor of Justice.
For more information:
RFSL’s President Ulrika Westerlund +46-703-450 183 or
RFSL Ungdoms’s President Emelie Mire Åsell +46-707-664 664 or
With gratitude to Maria Sjodin for the english translation