News :: International

Sweden Keeps ’Barbaric’ Trans Sterilization Law

by Jason St. Amand
National News Editor
Tuesday Jan 24, 2012
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The Swedish government recently announced that it would not amend a 40-year-old law that forces transgender people who wish to legally change their gender to become sterilized. LGBT activists are outraged and are calling the law "barbaric," the Pink News reported in a Jan. 17 article.

The law states that any Swede who wants gender reassignment surgery must be over 18, a native citizen, unmarried and sterilized, reported the Huffington Post.

The Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare proposed an amendment that said the current legislation violates Article 3 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, protecting "the right to respect for [everyone’s] physical and mental integrity." Most members of the Swedish Parliament supported the amendment but a small conservative party was able to block the change.

"The government’s decision is rather surprising: forcibly sterilising transgender people is recognized as inhumane across the political spectrum," Raül Romeva i Rueda, Green MEP from Spain, said. "It’s barbaric, outdated and highly unnecessary - not to mention against Sweden’s human rights commitments."

"The Swedish law causes anguish for transgender people who choose not to have the required surgery, involving an invasive medical procedure, for various reasons such as out of a wish to one day become parents," Boris Dittrich of Human Right’s Watch wrote in a letter to the Prime Minister of Sweden.

A number of LGBT activists were outraged by the unchanged law and AllOut, a Swedish LGBT rights organization, started an online petition that backs the amendment. There is also a YouTube video from AllOut where 21-year-old Georg Elfvelin, a transgender Swede, speaks against the current law.

The unchanged law is unusual as Sweden is one of the most progressive countries in the world when it comes to LGBT issues. Sweden was the first country in the world to remove homosexuality as an illness and has several laws that protect the gay community from discrimination.

In May 2009, the country’s parliament voted to legalize same-sex marriage and since May 2003 gay Swedish couples had the same rights as heterosexual couples when adopting chilren. In addition, gays are allowed to serve openly in the military.

Watch Elfvelin’s AllOut video below:


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