No more forced sterilization for trans people in Europe, but trans pathologisation remains

This April, the European Court of Human Rights found that sterilization requirement in legal gender recognition violates human rights. This landmark decision means that the remaining 20 European countries using the infertility requirement need to change their laws. It also means that countries planning to introduce new gender recognition laws will not include infertility requirement.

The case A.P and Others v. France was brought forward by three transgender people who had attempted to change their entries on sex and forenames on their birth certificates and were refused by the national courts as they did not meet the infertility requirement.

The complainants relied on Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the right to respect for private life. The judges ruled that authorities had infringed their right to respect for private life by making gender recognition conditional on undergoing an operation involving a high probability of sterility. The judges also declared that the requirement to undergo sterilization or treatment involving a very high probability of sterility, in order to change the entries on birth certificates, breaches the right to respect for private life.

Nevertheless, the Court denied that forced medical examinations and mental health diagnosis, constitute breaches of Article 8.

According to Transgender Europe Map and Index presented recently the legal situation for trans people’s rights in Europe has been making great strides in the last years. The organization argues however, that while forced sterilization in legal gender recognition is on its way out, trans people remain subject to mandatory mental health diagnosis. In fact, 36 European countries have this requirement in the gender recognition laws. This continues to be a human right violation as it implies that trans people are mentally ill. According to TGEU’s Executive Director, Julia Ehrt, “a mandatory mental health diagnosis for legal gender recognition violates trans people’s human rights and dignity. It promotes stigma, social exclusion, and discrimination.”

Legal situation of transgender people in the Western Balkans and Turkey

Trans people’s legal rights in the ERA region continue to be mostly violated and most countries either have no legal gender recognition at all and when they do, sterilization is required, except for Croatia. 

Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro and Turkey require sterilization before such recognition occurs. Albania, Macedonia and Kosovo have no legal gender recognition at all and trans people are forced to travel or migrate to other countries. 


To read the full decision of the European Court of Human Rights click here