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Finland: New gender recognition law 'major step' towards protecting trans rights

Trans act now demonstration in Senate Square, Helsinki, Finland © Tomi Asikainen / Amnesty International Finnish section

Need for harmful medical and psychiatric procedures abolished after new law passed by 113 votes to 69

However, children still being denied their rights

‘This new law will have a huge and positive impact’- Matti Pihlajamaa

Responding to the Finnish government passing legislation that abolishes harmful requirement for trans people to endure invasive medical and psychiatric procedures before they can have their gender recognised, Amnesty International said the new legislation was a “major step” toward true equality in the country.

The new law removes a requirement for trans people to be sterilised and obtain a psychiatric diagnosis in order for them to obtain legal gender recognition.

Matti Pihlajamaa, Amnesty International Finland’s LGBTI Rights Advisor, said:

“By passing this act, Finland has taken a major step towards protecting trans people’s rights and improving their lives and right to self-determination.

“The vote comes as a result of more than a decade of campaigning by civil society groups and is a testament to the commitment of activists who have fought long and hard - often in the face of toxic rhetoric - to see this day.

“This new law will have a huge and positive impact and provide an important pillar for non-discrimination, though more must still be done.

“Excluding children from legal gender recognition violates the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. We will continue to call on the Government to amend the legislation accordingly to ensure it advances the rights of children.”

New act only for adults

Under Finland’s existing legislation, which is in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights, an individual must provide proof of infertility before they can be granted legal gender recognition. Under the new law, recognition will be available for adults upon written application after a mandatory 30-day “period of reflection”. Despite this significant advancement, however, the new act introduces a legal gender recognition system for adults only.

Worldwide support

In 2017, the Finnish Trans Act formed part of Write for Rights, Amnesty’s flagship campaign. Amnesty called on the Finnish authorities to make the legal gender recognition process quick, accessible and respectful of human rights. The petition was signed by almost 350,000 people worldwide.

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