Campaigners celebrate ‘strong message’ as Germany updates gender laws

Germany flag (Image: Unsplash)

A change to laws around transitioning in Germany has been celebrated as sending a “strong message” to the rest of the world by campaigners.

On 12 April German lawmakers passed a new law that will allow trans people to change their legal gender through self-identification (Self-ID). The new law will come into effect this November. 374 MPs voted for the new law, while 251 voted against, and 11 abstained.

Cristian González Cabrera, a senior LGBT rights researcher at Human Rights Watch said: “Germany has joined a growing list of countries that are abolishing pathologizing requirements for gender recognition, which have no place in diverse and democratic societies.

“As populist politicians in Europe and beyond try to use trans rights as a political wedge issue, Germany’s new law sends a strong message that trans people exist and deserve recognition and protection, without discrimination.”

HRW has also indicated that it is an encouraging step towards greater protection for trans and non-binary people by the government indicating support for those communities.

“We show respect to trans, intersex, and non-binary people – without taking anything away from others”

The new law – the Self-Determination Act – will allow trans people in Germany aged 18 and over to change their legal gender marker and name by declaring that at a civil registry office. People aged 14 will require their parent’s or guardians’ consent. People will be able to choose whether to identify as male, female, diverse, or have no gender marker at all. The process will no longer require medical certificates as previously.

Anyone found to have intentionally and maliciously disclosed someone else’s prior name (deadnaming) or legal gender could be fined up to €10,000.

A 2017 report from Germany’s Federal Ministry of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women, and Youth found that people had to disclose personal details about their sexual history and have physical examinations to get the necessary certificates and ‘expert’ reports. The whole process was also found to take up to 20 months and cost around €1,868 or £1,595.

As per the BBC, Nyke Slawik of the Green party in Germany, who is trans, described the new law as a “first step” towards a more accepting society for trans people.

The broadcaster also quoted German Chancellor Olaf Scholz as saying: “We show respect to trans, intersex, and non-binary people – without taking anything away from others. This is how we continue to drive the modernisation of our country. This includes recognising realities of life and making them possible by law.”

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