Czech lawmakers have launched a proposal to remove the sterilisation requirement for legal gender transition, but progress to lift society-wide prejudices is slow.
The Czech Republic is one of the few European Union countries to continue to require a sterilisation procedure before a trans person can legally change their gender.
This, despite the European Court of Human Rights officially declaring such state-imposed requirements to be a form torture.
Leaders of the country were largely undisturbed by this comment, believing that legalising registered partnerships – as well as an interrupted attempt to legalise same-sex marriage – were more important to the LGBT community.
But with more and more European countries lifting the sterilisation requirement over the years, the Czech Republic remains the westernmost EU member state to still officially demand the procedure.
A bill has now been proposed by the Ministry of Justice to change this, despite the government’s strong conservative leanings. The draft still needs to be passed by both houses of parliament and be signed by the president before it can be enforced.
In the Czech Republic you have to go to a sexologist if you want to start transitioning.
Kryštof Stupka, an activist and member of the government’s LGBTQ+ committee, says sexologists have existed in the country for decades and are “a combination of a doctor and a psychiatrist, but more generally they are a group of traditionally-minded people who believe sexuality has to be regulated.”
“And they played a key role in the process until now,” he continues, saying that while sterilisation has often been a requirement in the past “it began being reinforced in the new civil code in 2014.”
So when most countries in Europe began dropping the sterilisation rule, the Czech Republic rewrote their legal code to include more limitations on legal gender reassignment.
In 2017, the European Court of Human Rights ruled in the landmark Garçon v France case that “forced and permanent sterilisation” violated the inalienable right to self-determination, and that the requirement by the state to undergo these procedures is a violation of Article 8 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which protects the sanctity of private life.
Following the Garçon case, The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) and Transgender Europe (TGEU) launched a complaint against the Czech Republic at the European Committee of Social Rights. The body found that the Czech Republic was in violation of the European Social Charter.
A bill was launched at the time to reverse the requirement – much like the one currently being discussed – but got shot down due to a technical issue, namely, the inability of the Czech citizens registry to process or implement this change.
It is unclear how the trans bill will fare in parliament, but based on support for marriage equality Stupka believes that only “about 40 of them would support same sex marriage, while around 80 supported in the last parliament” of the 200 deputies of the lower house of parliament.
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