Editorials

Germany to make Legal Gender Change Easier: What’s the Status in India?

Author: Sanskriti Srivastava, a student at ICFAI University Dehradun


Germany’s 40 years old “transsexual law” has now been replaced with the new law devised by the German government. Earlier, the law required its citizens to go to court and provide two expert reports, mostly from psychotherapists, before they can legally recognize the name and gender they identify with. German government acknowledged the previous law as outdated and humiliating.

Family Affairs Minister Lisa Paus while addressing a Berlin press conference stated that “right to live a self-discriminated life is fundamental to everyone. We live in a diverse and free society that is already further along in many places than our laws are. It’s about time we adopt the legal framework to societal reality.”

What the new law states –

As per the new law, an adult applicant can approach the local registry office and declare the change they want to make on official documents, this would cut the mustard.

Not only an adult, but Trans or non-binary individuals aged between 14 and more would be allowed to use the new law with permission from their parents or legal guardians.

Germany has lagged behind other European nations on the issue with Belgium, Denmark, Norway and Switzerland already accepting a self-declaration to change gender status legally.

LGBTQ activists and human rights groups have constantly urged Germany to modernize the “transsexual law” and even the country’s constitutional court has criticized aspects of it.

Legal Gender Change in India

India in 2019 after the landmark judgment of Navtej Singh Johar v. Union of India, the Supreme Court of India recognized the rights of the LGBTQ+ community and partially struck down Section 377 of The Indian Penal Code,1860. There is a lengthy legal procedure for undergoing gender change in India.

The steps include –

  • Creating the gender change affidavit
  • Publishing Advertisement
  • Gazette procedure
  • Gazette publication

Even after this long procedure, the gender change applications may get rejected. Then the individual again has to file the affidavit again and undergo the steps of procedures all over again.

And this procedure can only be done when an individual is an adult, whereas in Germany individuals above the age of 14 can undergo legal gender change.

Conclusion

It’s high time that India too makes some special laws and provisions for the protection of the rights of the Trans-gender community or at least ease the legal procedure for undergoing gender change in India.

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