- Portugal has approved a law recently that removes medical requirement in granting individuals legal gender recognition.
- According to ILGA-Europe, a network of LGBT groups, it became the latest nation in Europe that allowed legal gender change without medical or state intervention.
- It joins Malta, Norway, Denmark, Ireland and Belgium with similar rules on legal gender recognition.
Portugal joins other European countries in pushing for legislative reforms that would widen transgender and intersex rights according to the latest transgender news by the Reuters posted on April 13.
The country has approved a law recently that removed medical requirement in granting individuals legal gender recognition, becoming the sixth country in Europe to do so along with Malta, Norway, Denmark, Ireland and Belgium.
Legal gender recognition
Applicants who wished to have their gender identity legally recognized will no longer be required to present a diagnosis of a mental illness.
The parliament passed a law last Friday, April 13, that struck down the mandatory medical proof as well as banning surgeries to be performed on intersex babies.
Other European countries still compel transgender applicants for legal gender recognition to present proof that they underwent sterilization or sex reassignment surgery, a diagnosis from a doctor for a mental illness, and/or certification of being divorced if they are married.
According to ILGA-Europe, a network of LGBT groups, Portugal became the latest nation in Europe that allowed legal gender change without medical or state intervention.
The news was received positively by transgender advocates.
“When trans people are trusted to take decisions for themselves, it signals respect (and) procedures are simplified,” Richard Kohler, senior policy office of Transgender Europe, stated.
He said that the new legislation would improve the way transgender people will be recognized by the state.
Kohler explained in an interview with Reuters, “It enables anyone who needs legal gender recognition to quickly get through with this bureaucratic step and continue with their lives.”
Protection for intersex children
In addition, the law also protected intersex children from any genital surgery, effectively making Portugal one of only two countries in the world with such legislative protection. Malta introduced a similar law in 2015.
Physicians routinely conduct surgeries on the genitalia of intersex infants in order to make them conform to either being a male or female. The actions were justified with the belief that the procedures would spare the parents from distress and improve the quality of life of intersex children.
However, advocates claimed that these surgeries might cause long-term pain, infertility, loss of sexual sensation, and side effects on health.
Furthermore, other activists believed that the law, in its present form, is still insufficient.
According to Kitty Anderson of Organisation Intersex International (OII), parents could find a way around the law and request surgeries to be performed on their children by asserting that they were confident of their gender identity.
Daniela Truffer, founder of StopIGM.org, an organization that campaigns against intersex genital mutilation (IGM), said, “The law … doesn’t explicitly prohibit intersex genital mutilation (IGM), nor criminalise or adequately sanction IGM, nor address obstacles to access to justice and redress for IGM survivors.”