France scraps obligatory transgender sterilisation law

LGBT activists are celebrating the victory, which has been widely-recognised as a progressive step for transgender rights

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The Independent Online

The French government has passed legislation to allow transgender people to legally change their gender without undergoing obligatory sterilisation. 

Until now, French people hoping to transition were forced to undergo surgical sterilisation before being officially recognised by their new gender. 

According to data released in 2013, nearly two dozen European countries enforced obligatory sterilisation, including Norway, Finland, Russia, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Belgium and Switzerland.

Historically, the argument was this step was necessary to prove transgender people were serious about transitioning, according to Transgender Europe

LGBT rights activists were celebrating their victory on Thursday in what has been widely-recognised as a step towards a more progressive and modern attitude. 

Since 2014, Denmark, Malta and Ireland have allowed people to legally change their gender by informing authorities, without medical or state intervention.

Countries including Britain, Spain and Germany still require a psychiatric diagnosis of gender dysphoria or transsexualism in order to legally change gender. 

Involuntary sterilisation has been strongly condemned by the UN as a human rights violation. 

ILGA-Europe say the change in law is a step in the right direction for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender groups. 

"There is no other population in the world that is asked to be sterilised apart from transgender," ILGA spokesperson Sophie Aujean said. 

"These are years of sparring that finally come to fruition."

However, others criticised the amendment as "not a revolutionary law".

"This law will resolve nothing while we still refuse to medicate and legislate transitions," Stéphanie Nicot, president of la Fédération LGBT told Le Figaro. "We demand that this [issue] no longer goes through the courts; we are not criminals and judges have more important things to deal with." 

The French census does not currently include transgender people and therefore there is no official estimate of the number of trans people living in France, however activists estimate it to be in the tens of thousands. 

In Europe, transgender people are twice as likely as gay people to be attacked, threatened or insulted, according to an EU report published in December 2014.