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German government approves law to make legal gender change easier for trans, intersex, non-binary

People hold a rainbow flag as they attend the 45th Berlin Pride Parade for Christopher Street Day (CSD) in Berlin, Germany, Saturday, July 22, 2023.
People hold a rainbow flag as they attend the 45th Berlin Pride Parade for Christopher Street Day (CSD) in Berlin, Germany, Saturday, July 22, 2023. Copyright Fabian Sommer/dpa via AP
Copyright Fabian Sommer/dpa via AP
By Euronews, AFP
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The proposal, which will get rid of the 1980s requirement for two psychological assessments, will make it easier for trans, intersex, and non-binary people to legally change name and gender in the country.

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The German government approved the proposal for a new law of self-determination on Wednesday making it easier for individuals to legally change their name and gender, answering a long-held request by the LGBTQ+ community in the country.

Lisa Paus, Germany's Minister for the Family, called the decision "a great moment for transgender and intersex people in Germany." If introduced, the reform would allow trans, intersex, and non-binary people in the country to change their name and gender in the government registry offices with a simple procedure that involves submitting a self-disclosure form.

The currently existing law dates back to the 1980s and requires those wanting to change their name and gender to submit two psychological reports with a district court making the final decision - treating the whole issue like an illness.

"Everyone has a right to the state respecting their gender identity," said Justice Minister Marco Buschmann. "The current law harasses transgender people. We want to end this undignified situation."

According to Paus, the proposed law will "protect minorities who have been discriminated against for a long time and is socio-political progress."

In the case of children under the age of 14, it will be the responsibility of the parents to submit the relevant documentation, while minors above the age of 14 will be able to submit the form by themselves as long as they have the consent of their parents.

The change will be validated after a period of three months, while a new possible request to change gender will only be possible after one year, in order to "guarantee the seriousness of the request", according to the text of the law.

But the proposal was not without controversy in the country, with the opposition and some feminist groups speaking their concerns about it.

"The very name of the self-determination law suggests that one should choose one's sexual identity freely. For the majority of the population, this identity is not in question", politicians from the conservative CDU-CSU said, accusing the coalition government of going "too far in their extreme and sweeping approach".

The proposed "Self-Determination Act" - a flagship of Social Democratic Chancellor Olaf Scholz's coalition government - has yet to be submitted to the country's Parliament for approval. 

If passed, the law will allow Germany to join a list of a few countries in Europe that have already embraced the legal principle of self-determination, includingBelgium, Spain, Ireland, Luxembourg and Denmark.

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