In the early hours of this morning (Wednesday, December 18), the Dutch Senate passed a new landmark gender recognition law, which does away with requirements for forced sterilization and gender reassignment surgery. The former law, one of the first in the world (dating to 1984), has long been criticised by transgender rights advocates, who are in celebration mode now, after years of hard battle. “Let this be a party for all transgender people who have been waiting for years here!” posted the Transgender Network Nederland on its facebook page this morning.
Scheduled for discussion at 23:00 local time, the Dutch transgender law was passed by 51 votes in favour, to 24 against. The new law will go into force from July 1, 2014.
The new law is not as progressive as the recent Argentinian law, passed in May 2012, since it only does not extend to under-16s and applicants will still need the opinion of an expert before local authorities can issue new ID documents. Nevertheless, the law represents a significant victory for trans and LGBT activists in the Netherlands and throughout Europe, as – aside from its immediate impact on the lives of trans people in the Netherlands – the measure helps set the pace for much needed reforms in this area, internationally.
As highlighted by a report released by Transgender Europe (TGEU), to mark May 17, 2013, Europe still has a long way to go to deliver on Gender Recognition laws which are adequate from a human rights perspective.
Not only do 16 countries in the region have no gender recognition law at all, the majority of those that do (24 of 33) require forced sterilization. 19 require divorce.
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