Amnesty International Finnish Section
The Finnish League for Human Rights
Seta – LGBTI Rights in Finland
Press release on April 6, 2015
A great step for human rights-based legal gender recognition: A ministry expert group in Finland wants to remove infertility requirement and forced divorce, examine self-determination
The final report of a Ministry for Social Affairs and Health expert group on legal gender recognition was released today. The group has reviewed the terms of legal gender recognition and suggests that the infertility requirement and converting one’s marriage to registered partnership be removed. The group also suggests a change of the outdated name of the current law. The experts further suggest that an option of basing legal gender recognition on self-determination in the form of a simple declaration of one’s own to the registry office should be explored. The group states that it may be well-founded also to review the current age limit of 18 years and to regulate the legal parenthood of persons who have undergone legal gender recognition.
Human rights organisations rejoice at the suggestions of the long-awaited report. Amnesty International Finnish Section, The Finnish League for Human Rights, Rainbow Families, Seta and Trasek say that the report marks a significant step towards improving the rights of people who wish to have their legal gender changed. The organisations have been campaigning together for several years to change the terms of legal gender recognition. They now expect the suggestions of the expert group to be included in the agenda of the recently initiated negotiations on a new government coalition. Finland had parliamentary elections on April 19.
The NGOs point out that a comprehensive reform of legal gender recognition can be prepared in the context of finalizing the marriage equality reform as there will inevitably be changes to the single status/forced divorce requirement. The parliament adopted a citizen’s initiative on marriage equality in December 2014 but the change will only take effect in March 2017 due to remaining legal considerations.
Recent international development shows a growing tendency to support self-determination. The most recent development includes Malta which adopted the GIGESC (gender identity, gender expression and sec characteristics) law in April while a government expert group in Norway suggested that self-determination should be implemented in Norway and the age limit of 18 years should be abolished.
The Finnish NGOs point out that the suggestions of the expert group are also in line with the historical resolution on discrimination against transgender persons adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on April. PACE calls on the member states to develop quick, transparent and accessible procedures, based on self-determination, for changing the name and registered sex of transgender people on birth certificates, identity cards, passports, educational certificates and other similar documents; make these procedures available for all people who seek it, irrespective of age, medical status, financial situation or detentions; abolish sterilisation and other compulsory medical treatment, including a mental health diagnosis, as a necessary legal requirement to recognise a person’s gender identity in laws regulating the procedure for changing a name and registered gender; as well as to remove any restrictions on the right of transgender people to remain in an existing marriage upon recognition of their gender.
The representatives of Seta and Trasek were part of the Ministry for Social Affairs and Health expert group.
Aija Salo, secretary general, Seta – LGBTI Rights in Finland (member of expert group), +358 50 309 8108
Antti Karanki, chair, Trasek (member of expert group), +358 41 546 1565
The final report of the ministry expert group (in Finnish): Sosiaali- ja terveysministeriön translakityöryhmän loppuraportti Sukupuolen oikeudellisen vahvistamisen edellytykset