The European Court of Human Rights ruled yesterday that requiring sterilization of individuals seeking a change in their legal gender recognition violates human rights. Twenty two countries in Europe currently still require sterilization to access gender identity recognition, however this decision mandates that these countries amend their laws to reflect this positive ruling. Only four countries in Europe, Norway, Ireland, Malta, and Denmark currently have gender identity recognition policies that are based on the principle of self-determination without any medical requirements.
While forced sterilization has been deemed a human rights violation, the EU Court upheld that medical examinations and a mental health diagnosis were in line with the European Convention of Human Rights.
Jessica Stern, Executive Director of OutRight Action International, commented on the decision: “Today the world moved in the right direction for for trans rights everywhere. Forcing unnecessary medical interventions to access basic human rights like legal recognition of a person’s gender is barbaric. As more countries review laws for gender identity recognition it is essential that they forgo outdated policies and follow legislation from places like Malta or Argentina which prioritize self-determination. The decision from the European Court raises the bar globally.”
This ruling results from three cases against France submitted in 2012 and 2013 which leveraged Article 8 of the European Convention of Human rights, the “Right to respect for private and family rights,” Article 3 of the Convention the “Prohibition of torture,” as well as Article 14, “Prohibition of discrimination.”