Strasbourg Court: sterilisation requirement for gender reassignment surgery is a violation of privacy

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Tuesday, the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled that the requirement of permanent infertility to undergo gender reassignment surgery is a violation of the right to privacy, as guaranteed by Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

European Court of Human RightsThe case ended on the Court’s plate after Turkish authorities refused to grant authorisation for gender reassignment surgery because the applicant requesting it was not permanently unable to procreate.

Article 40 of Turkey’s Civil Code stipulates that persons undergoing gender reassignment surgery need to be permanently infertile, which the person in question was not.

However, according to the Court, the Turkish state breached the person’s right to respect for his private life by denying the person to undergo the operation. It added that making infertility mandatory for such treatment is a violation of the Convention.

Sirpa Pietikäinen MEP, Vice-President of the LGBTI Intergroup, reacted: “I strongly welcome this ruling by the Court, which will have a positive impact on the lives of transgender people in Turkey and beyond.”

“It is very encouraging the Court emphasises the increased social acceptance and legal recognition of trans people in the world.”

Dennis de Jong MEP, Vice-President of the Intergroup on LGBTI Rights, continued: “By tackling sterilisation as a requirement for gender reassignment surgery this ruling presents an important move in the right direction: full abolishment of sterilisation as a requirement for legal gender recognition.”

“21 countries in Europe, including 13 EU Member States still require sterilisation before trans people can have their true gender recognised. This ruling should encourage Member States to start working to end this forced sterilisation.”

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