Germany: include trans people in the coalition agreement

German political parties negotiating coalition deals to create a new government should commit to changing the law on legal gender recognition, so that it is based on self-determination, not on so-called expert reports Human Rights Watch said today. As the parties attempt to reach agreements on key issues such as climate, foreign policy, migration, and the economy, they are also expected to address the pathologizing and onerous process currently for transgender people to change their registered name and their gender.

“Germany’s current process for gender recognition is out of step with developments in international law and medical science,” said Cristian González Cabrera, LGBT rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “All political parties should agree to a change to the status quo in the next legislative session and make the process simple, non-judicial, accessible and based on self-determination for all trans people.”

The German law on transsexuals (Transsexualengesetz) clarifies that in order for the name and gender with which they identify to be legally recognized, trans people must provide a local court (Amtsgericht) with two areas of expertise. Reports must show “a high degree of probability” that the applicant will not want to revert to their previous legal sex. The law does not have a minimum age at which a trans person can apply for legal recognition of their gender, an aspect of the law that should be retained.

According to a 2017 report from the Federal Ministry for Families, Seniors, Women and Youth, applicants consider the assessment process humiliating. Some claimants said that in order to get the necessary intercourse they had to disclose intangible details of their childhood and sexual past, and even undergo physical exams. The report found that the legal process can take up to 20 months and costs an average of € 1,868 (approximately US $ 2,160).

The political parties most likely to form a coalition government after the September elections in Germany are the Social Democratic Party (SPD), Union parties (CDU / CSU), the Free Democratic Party (FDP) and the Greens. These parties have already made unsuccessful legislative attempts to reform the legal procedure for gender recognition in Germany under the current government.

The SPD, the junior partner of the current ruling coalition, announced in January 2021 that negotiations had collapsed as Union parties opposed a process based solely on self-determination. The Greens and the FDP, both in opposition in the last legislature, each introduced bills to reform the transgender law, which parliament rejected.

A growing number of countries around the world have removed binding requirements for legal gender recognition, including medical or psychological assessment. Countries like Argentina, Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway, Portugal and Uruguay center individual autonomy on gender identity, providing for simple administrative processes based on self-declaration. Costa Rica and the Netherlands have taken steps to completely remove gender markers from identity documents.

The move towards simple administrative procedures based on self-declaration reflects standards based on science and human rights. The Global Professional Association for Transgender Health, an interdisciplinary professional association with more than 700 members worldwide, has found that medical and other barriers to gender recognition for transgender people, including diagnostic requirements, “ can damage physical and mental health ”. The most recent International Classification of Diseases, which will come into effect in January 2022, formally de-pathologizes trans identities.

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Germany is a party, provides for equal civil and political rights for all, the right of everyone to recognition before the law and the right to privacy. The United Nations Human Rights Committee, charged with interpreting the ICCPR, has called on governments to guarantee the rights of transgender people, including the right to legal gender recognition, and for countries to repeal abusive and disproportionate demands for legal gender recognition. identity.

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled in Goodwin v. UK (2002) that the “conflict between social reality and the law” that arises when the government does not recognize a person’s gender identity constitutes “serious intrusion into privacy”. The European Union’s LGBTIQ Equality Strategy (2020-2025) also supports “accessible legal gender recognition based on self-determination and without age restriction” as a human rights standard in the bloc. member.

The third principle of the Yogyakarta Principles on the Application of International Human Rights Law with Respect to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity states that each person’s self-defined gender identity “is part of integral to his personality and is one of the most fundamental aspects of self-determination, dignity and freedom.

As a member of the Equal Rights Coalition, the Global Equality Fund and the UN LGBTI Core Group, Germany plays an important role in defending the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) beyond of its borders. In March 2021, the federal government pledged to do more through an LGBTI Inclusion Strategy, which, among its many goals, aims to strengthen Germany’s role in promoting the rights of LGBTI people in international and regional human rights institutions.

“While Germany remains at the forefront of promoting the rights of LGBTI people abroad, its outdated approach to legal gender recognition for trans people is tainting its national human rights record,” González said. “In the ongoing coalition negotiations, German lawmakers should seize the opportunity to ensure that German transgender residents see their rights fully respected in law and make Germany a leader in gender diversity at home and abroad. abroad.

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