Greece improves gender recognition law but misses chance to introduce self-determination

The Greek parliament has voted to approve legislation on legal gender recognition in a plenary vote today (10 October 2017).

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Transgender - 2016

The law will remove the need for trans people in Greece to undergo sterilisation to have their gender legally recognised; an outdated and oppressive practice that violates individuals’ bodily integrity. ILGA-Europe send their congratulations to the movement in Greece who have been relentlessly calling for change.

However, ILGA-Europe joins local and European trans activists who are highlighting the fact that the new legislation is far from flawless.

(Currently, trans people in Greece who wish to amend their gender marker on personal documents to reflect their gender have to provide proof of medical treatment, sterilisation and a psychiatric diagnosis of gender identity disorder. Under the existing law, minors cannot get their gender legally recognised.)

Under the law passed today, the sterilisation requirements will be removed. The law would be accessible to anyone aged 17 and older. Children between the age of 15 and 17 will have access to the legal gender recognition process, but the steps that they have to follow are not completely demedicalised, as they will have to obtain a certificate from a medical council at Athens Children Hospital.

This situation for trans young people is one of the remaining concerns being raised by LGBTI activists, including ILGA-Europe.

In addition, trans people will still need to be single to access the process (possibly forcing some couples to divorce against their will). A judge will have to decide if the person’s gender expression/presentation matches their gender marker before legal recognition is granted.

Progress – but not perfect. That sums up my feelings at the moment.” said Evelyne Paradis, ILGA-Europe Executive Director after the vote.

Today is a great step forward, but it’s a shame that the step was not one towards full self-determination for all trans people in Greece. In April last year, Greek officials requested a study tour with the Maltese government – with the specific aim of learning from the ground-breaking Maltese GIGESC Act 2015. Given the fact that there is a global standard to learn from in Europe, ILGA-Europe want to see more governments leading by example.”

Photo By National_Progress_Party (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons