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A landmark law in Denmark making it easier for transgender people to change their legal gender should set an example to governments across the world, Amnesty International said.

The Danish parliament yesterday passed a bill allowing transgender people to obtain official documents reflecting their gender identity without needing to be diagnosed with a mental disorder or undergo surgeries resulting in irreversible sterilization.

“This progressive and courageous step made by Danish MPs should set an example to the rest of Europe and beyond,” said Amnesty International Denmark’s Helle Jacobsen.

“All states should ensure that transgender people can obtain legal recognition of their gender through a quick, accessible and transparent procedure in accordance with their own sense of their gender identity.”

Previously, Danish transgender people could only change their legal gender after receiving a psychiatric diagnosis of “transsexualism” or undergoing surgeries, irreversible sterilization and other medical treatments including hormone treatments.

Similar repressive laws affecting transgender people still exist across the world.

“Legal gender recognition is vital to preserve the right to privacy for transgender people, but the process must preserve their right to health and not impose on them mandatory requirements that violate their human rights,” said Helle Jacobsen.

The new law, which comes into force on 1 September 2014, is the first of its kind in Europe. Argentina is the only other country in the world where a similar model exists.

Amnesty International’s 2014 report, The State Decides Who I Am, reveals that European countries are violating the human rights of people trying to change their legal gender.

Procedures to obtain legal gender recognition violate fundamental rights in Finland, France, Norway, Belgium and Germany, while in Ireland no procedure exists at all, although legislation is planned.

Transgender people are at risk of violations of their right to privacy – as well as discrimination, harassment and even violence – whenever they have to produce documents mentioning a name or other gender-related information that does not reflect their gender identity and expression.

Amnesty International

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