German court rules forced divorces for trans people unconstitutional

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

A ruling by Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court has been hailed as a major victory for the trans community.

The law at present says that anyone who has been certified as transsexual will only be allowed to change their sex on their birth certificate if they are unmarried.

In August 2001 Germany legalised registered partnerships for same-sex couples but this law does not apply to them, only to marriage.

A trans woman who underwent surgery in 2002 and has been married for 56 years did not want to break up her happy marriage, which had produced three children, in order to change her birth documents.

Today the Federal Constitutional Court ruled that the present law is unconstitutional and gave the German government until August 2009 to change it.

Germany introduced the “law on the change of first name and determination of gender identity in special cases,” known as “Transsexuellengesetz,” in 1980.

In the UK, under the Gender Recognition Act, if a Gender Recognition Panel grants an application it must issue a gender recognition certificate to the applicant.

If the applicant is married, the certificate is to be an interim gender recognition certificate.

(4) Schedule 2 (annulment or dissolution of marriage after issue of interim gender recognition certificate) has effect.

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the fact that an interim gender recognition certificate has been issued to either party to a marriage is a ground for that marriage being voidable.

Proceedings for dissolution on this basis must be begun within six months of the issue of the interim certificate.

In Scotland, on account of differences in marriage law, the grant of an interim certificate will provide a ground for divorce, rather than make the marriage voidable.