Greece: New law on gender recognition a 'historic step' for transgender rights

The passing of a new law reforming the legal recognition of gender identity is an historical step forward for transgender people in Greece, said Amnesty International.

The new law adopted today expressly states that transgender people can change their papers without the requirement of medical interventions or tests.

Fotis Filippou, Amnesty International’s Deputy Europe Director, said:

“Today’s reform is a hard-won victory for transgender rights activists in Greece who have fought for equality for transgender people for years. It sends out a clear message that no one should be forced to go through medical procedures in order to be officially recognised for who they are.

“Whilst this reform is a historic step in the right direction, the struggle is not fully won.

“The Greek government must make further changes in law to ensure that transgender people in Greece can be legally recognised as who they are without having to give up other rights.”

Serious flaws in law remain

Amnesty has been campaigning on this issue alongside the Greek Transgender Support Association, Colour Youth and All Out for a fair reform of legal gender recognition in Greece, a campaign that has also been supported by Transgender Europe and ILGA-Europe.

Nearly 24,000 people have joined a campaign calling on the Greek government to amend their legislative proposal to reform the procedure through which transgender people can access legal recognition of their gender identity.

However, Amnesty have pointed out that serious flaws in the new law include:

•           A requirement that a judge decides whether the person’s external appearance matches the gender the person identifies as, increasing risks that individuals will have to conform to gender stereotypes.

•           A requirement that the recognition has to be validated by a local court, instead of a simple, accessible administrative process.

•           The law bars access to legal gender recognition to transgender refugees and migrants.

•           The law also excludes “non-binary persons” from obtaining official papers that reflect their gender identity.

•           Transgender people who are married will be forced to get divorced before they can change their legal gender.

•           If a transgender person has children, their gender and name cannot change in their children’s birth certificate. This is a breach of the transgender person’s private life.

•           Moreover, although the procedure will be open to children above the age of 15, blanket age restrictions remain. Children who seek legal gender recognition should not face additional barriers to doing so, such as the mental health assessment required by the new law for children aged between 15 and 16 years old.

The above provisions in the new law force transgender people who seek legal recognition of their gender identity to choose between accessing this and claiming other human rights.

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