Posted on 28. January 2011 in Press

TGEU welcomes decision by German Constitutional Court: other countries ought to ban sterilization requirement as not constitutional

January 28th 2011

The German Constitutional Court has announced in a press release [1]  today that the requirement to undergo sterilization or gender reconstruction surgery is not constitutional. The decision has immediate effect.The plaintiff, a 62 year old transsexual woman, had acquired the so-called “small solution” with a name change, but not altered the civil status due to the requirement to undergo sterilization surgery. With a still “male” civil status she and her female partner had been denied the right to enter a registered same-sex partnership. If forced to marry, so plaintiff, they are recognizable as a partnership with at least one transsexual spouse – a live free from discrimination made impossible.

The First Division of the Federal Constitutional Court has ruled that the standardized conditions for legal gender recognition of transsexuals to enter into a partnership are not compatible with the right to sexual self-determination, physical integrity and privacy.

“A reform of the German Gender Recognition Act (Transsexuellengesetz) is more than overdue.” says Max Schulze board member of the Berlin-based organization TransInterQueer, ” we demand from the Federal Government and the Parliament to show quick and consistent action now.”

TGEU welcomes the decision by the German Constitutional Court. A majority of countries in Europe have similar requirements violating the human rights of transgender people. The Council of Europe has already indicated that this is a matter of concern. Thus, the Committee of Ministers had stated that ‘prior requirements, including changes of a physical nature, for legal recognition of a gender reassignment, should be regularly reviewed in order to remove abusive requirements.’[2]  In line with previous decisions from the German Constitutional Court on the German Transsexual Law and in combination with similar verdicts of the Austrian High Administrative Court TGEU is positive that this will send a strong signal to other countries to review their gender recognition legislation.

“The margin of appreciation for requirements for gender recognition, as granted by the European Court of Human Rights, has its limits. The decision of the German court states clearly that human rights of transgender persons are jeopardized with a legal requirement for sterility or compulsory sex reassignment surgery, still practiced in many countries in Europe. When the Committee of Ministers recommendation will be up for review in two years, we want to see Germany and many other countries to have their legislation in line with international human rights law.” says Richard Köhler, co-chair of Transgender Europe.