Spain advances draft law on transgender rights

A person is holding a transgender pride flag. – Copyright AFP Emmanuel DUPARCQ

Hazel Ward

The Spanish government on Monday introduced a transgender rights bill to be presented to parliament this summer, allowing anyone over the age of 16 to easily change their gender on their identity documents.

The move comes on the eve of International Pride Day and if passed, the legislation will make Spain one of the few countries in Europe to allow gender self-determination.

“We have approved the second reading of the Trans and LGBTI Rights Act which will now be presented to Parliament before the summer,” said Equality Minister Irene Montero after the cabinet approved the bill. .

“We are once again at the forefront and an international reference in the defense of LGBTI rights and, in particular, in the defense of the rights of transgender people,” she said of the decision to stop categorizing trans-related conditions as mental and behavioral disorders.

First approved a year ago, the proposed law means that any Spaniard over the age of 16 “will be able to request to change the gender of their registration at the registry office”.

They can also change their first name.

The bill effectively simplifies the procedure for changing sex on official identity documents, allowing the applicant to request the change on the basis of a simple declaration.

It removes the requirement for a medical report attesting to gender dysphoria or proof of hormone treatment.

According to the new law, the re-registration procedure must be completed “within a maximum of four months”, she said.

– “LGBTI lives matter” –

Earlier this month, a court in the northwest region of Galicia approved a request for a sex change from a nine-year-old child who wanted to be identified as male instead of female on identity documents. .

The child already has “a boy’s name” and has “for years … thought, acted and felt like a boy”, the court said in a June 10 ruling released Monday.

The bill approved by the cabinet on Monday allows people as young as 12 to make the switch, but only under certain conditions.

“Between 14 and 16, the procedure will require parental consent; between the ages of 12 and 14, the procedure can be conducted through a voluntary court process,” Montero said.

And it will also mean that trans children under the age of 12 “will be able to change their name on their ID card”, she said, without saying how such a procedure would work.

“We want to send a very clear and strong message that LGBTI lives matter,” she said.

The bill also includes a new section on transgender migrants, who will have the right to change sex “on documents issued in Spain if their rights as transgender people are not guaranteed in their country of origin”.

– Ban on conversion therapy –

Legislation bans conversion therapy, promotes non-discrimination against LGBTI people in the workplace and seeks to “advance inclusion”, particularly of transgender women who tend to be disproportionately affected .

It also provides penalties for discriminatory offences, ranging from minor offenses such as insults or offensive graffiti punishable by a fine of 200 to 2,000 euros to serious offenses such as refusal of employment punishable by a fine of 2,001 to 10,000 euro.

The worst offences, such as denying someone access to a bar or swimming pool, or subjecting them to conversion therapy, carry a penalty of between 10,001 euros and 150,000 euros, he said. she declared.

According to LGBTQ rights group ILGA, at least 25 UN member states “allow legal gender recognition without prohibitive requirements”, although only about 15 allow people to change status on the basis of a simple statement.

In some countries, the process can take years and may include requirements such as a psychiatric diagnosis, hormonal treatment, sex reassignment surgery or even sterilization.

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