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New law to help trans and intersex people

19.06.2019 - 15:22
Mynd með færslu
 Mynd: Vilhjálmur Þór Guðmundsson - RÚV
A new gender identity law approved by Alþingi yesterday puts Iceland back at the fore of leading countries for LGBTQ rights, according to the prime minister.

The new law enshrines the right of individuals to have their gender registered in accordance with their own gender identity (including a third option, X), without the need for medical diagnosis and gender reassignment treatment. 

The goal of the new law is to respect and strengthen everybody’s freedom of personal identity to bear the gender label they feel most appropriate. The law also aims to protect people’s rights over their own bodies and includes the provision that a working group will be set up to ensure the rights of intersex children born with different physical gender characteristics. 

Prime minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir (pictured above) said in a Facebook post that she is proud of Alþingi for passing the bill, and for the broad base of cross-party support it achieved. 

The pressure groups Samtökin ‘78, Trans Ísland, and Intersex Ísland have welcomed the new law in a press release as an important boost for the rights of trans and intersex people in Iceland. 

The praise is limited however, as they say the law should have gone further in several areas and represents a wasted opportunity—for example in enshrining the rights of intersex children to be protected from the human rights abuse of non-consensual cosmetic surgery on their bodies—even though the proposed working group is a step in the right direction. 

They also rue other changes to the bill made as it passed through Alþingi, including the decision to remove the provision that would have forced cooperation with stakeholder groups and would have allowed minors to change name and gender without parental or specialist committee involvement. 

Under the new law, children under 18 can register their preferred name and gender with the national registry only with parental approval. If parental approval is not forthcoming, they can take their case to a specialist panel. The first draft of the bill would have lowered the age at which people have total control over their own name and gender registration to 15.

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