Finnish government opts to keep law that requires trans people to be sterilised

Surgical Instruments

The government of Finland have decided to keep rules that force the sterilisation of trans people who wish to change their legal gender.

In a disappointing blow to trans activists, the Finnish government decided on August 25th to not implement the recommendations of the United Nations Human Rights Council.

The Human Rights Council had previously recommended amending the “Trans Act” which requires sterilisation prior to changing a legal gender.

The act also forces the classification of transgender people as suffering from “transsexualism.”

These recommendations were praised by human rights group Amnesty International, who ran a campaign asking the Finnish Prime Minister Juha Sipilä to support the amendments.

This judgement is involved in a larger debate about the state of human rights in Finland.

In May, the Human Rights Council gave the Finnish government 153 recommendations, including the amendments to the “Trans Act.” The Finnish government has rejected 37 of these so far.

In the last four years, Finland has only had 78 recommendations, out of which five were rejected.


The Finnish Parliament
The Finnish Parliament (Photo: Creative Commons)

The European Court of Human Rights also ruled in April that requiring sterilisation for gender recognition was a human rights violation.

The Finnish government have given no reason for rejecting these recommendations, only stating: “The abolition of the Infertility requirement is not included in the current Government’s legislative plan.”
A petition by Amnesty International reached nearly 16,000 signatures.

Amnesty International has said in response: “Your support hasn’t gone unnoticed – particularly by those within the government that are in favour of these reforms. The fight for trans rights in Finland is far from over.”

As of 2017, twenty European countries have a requirement that transgender people be sterilised prior to changing their legal gender.

A person’s legal gender appears on most official forms of identification and bureaucracy, including birth certificates, driving licences, payslips and marriage licences.

In Finland, this extends to more documents, as the Finnish version of a social security or national insurance number is gendered and appears on documents such as library cards.

Two other Nordic countries, Denmark and Sweden, had similar conditions for gender recognition, but have dropped these requirements in the last few years.