Members of the European Parliament recently welcomed a new transgender rights law in Portugal, but at the same time have raised serious concerns about Lithuania’s move to prevent trans people from accessing gender reassignment treatment.
Portugal’s New Trans-Friendly Identity Record Amendment Law
March 16 saw a law that establishes clear guidelines on how Portuguese citizens can change their name and sex come into effect. Unlike many laws concerning amendments to civil identity records, this new law only stipulates a need for an official medical diagnosis and does not require the applicant to divorce a spouse, to have gone through or be going through hormonal treatment or gender reassignment surgery, and does not require the applicant to undergo sterilization.
From UK Gay News:
The new law is fully in line with the Yogyakarta Principles, a set of authoritative guidelines for the application of internal human rights standards in the field of gender identity and sexual orientation.
“I am proud that colleagues in Lisbon ended the legal uncertainty surrounding gender reassignment procedures,” commented Rui Tavares, Member of the European Parliament from Portugal and a vice-president of the LGBT Intergroup, commented.
“Portugal keeps leading the way as a progressive country for LGBT people in Europe, and transgender citizens can now benefit from one of the most progressive laws in the world.”
Lithuanian Proposal to Ban Gender Reassignment Surgery Condemned
In stark contrast, legislation that would prohibit gender reassignment surgery as proposed by Lithuania’s Antanas Matulas, Chairman of the Committee on Health Affairs, has drawn pointed criticism.
The move, in direct defiance of a 2007 European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruling that said trans citizens must be given access to gender reassignment surgery, is designed to prevent future involvement from the ECHR in this matter by amending Lithuania’s civil code to explicitly prohibit gender reassignment. This, lawmakers believe, will shield them from further court intervention.
While the legislation has yet to be voted on, MEPs are, understandably, concerned.
Again, from UK Gay News:
“Some Lithuanian Members of Parliament make it sound as if they are under siege by transgender people, when all they need is accessing essential healthcare to protect their human dignity,” said Raül Romeva i Rueda, an MEP from Spain and a vice-president of the LGBT Intergroup
“How the European Union can intervene is currently unclear, but we will use of our mandate to the greatest possible extent to stop this ban from becoming law,” he added.