Czech Ministry of Justice supports abolition of sterilization for trans people

A draft of a new law would put an end to a legal requirement that international human rights groups call barbaric. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 30.03.2023 16:30:00 (updated on 31.03.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

Members of the Czech trans community could soon see progress on an important issue. The legal requirement for mandatory sterilization before a person can change their official gender designation could be abolished. Czechia is one of the last EU countries to require total surgical removal of sexual glands as a condition for the official change of one’s sex in personal documents.

The Justice Ministry in cooperation with the government’s Commissioner for Human Rights Klára Šimáčková Laurenčíková presented a draft of legislation to abolish this requirement. The breakthrough was announced at a conference held just ahead of the International Transgender Day of Visibility, which takes place every March 31.

This is just the first step, as the draft needs to go through both houses of parliament and be signed by the president before it can take effect.

Requiring surgery for a legal change of gender is considered contrary to international human rights conventions and obligations that Czechia has agreed to.

Advocates of the proposed legislation say acceptance, respect, and living in a given social role are essential for trans people, which is why changing their documents is so important for them. Without changing the letter indicating the gender in the documents, they encounter problems in common everyday situations, such as visiting the post office, administrative offices, traveling, or looking for a job are currently big obstacles for them. The mandatory surgery also carries many health risks, they add.

“The European Court of Human Rights and the UN Committee on Human Rights and Torture unequivocally reject the requirement of castration for gender reassignment. The UN committee even assesses it as torture and inhumane treatment, which must stop,” Šimáčková Laurenčíková said. The non-governmental sector, and especially LGBT+ community participated in drafting the bill, she added.

The current law is not in line with international standards

Deputy Justice Minister Karel Dvořák said the Council of Europe calls the requirement for surgery a clear contradiction of international standards for the protection of human rights, and called for its abolition in the legal systems of all member states. “I know it won't be easy, but we are ready to hold detailed discussions on this topic,” Dvořák added.

“I believe that we will become part of a world where mandatory sterilization is not required when changing gender. I am convinced that the Czech Republic belongs to and will join the significant majority of European states that allow an official gender change without this condition,” he added.

The non-governmental organization Trans*parent has long been calling for an end to the requirement. Trans*parent chairman Viktor Heumann called the current legislation “barbaric,” adding it does not treat trans people as people who should have equal chances and conditions for life. He called for the legislation’s approval to be put on a fast track.

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