Germany becomes first country in Europe to recognise “third gender” officially

Brandenberg gate rainbow

The highest court in Germany has voted to strengthen intersex identity rights after lawmakers passed a motion to legally recognise a third gender on official documents.

Ruling in favour of an appeal brought by an intersex person, a top court in Germany approved the use of a third gender on official documentation, and required parliament to recognise the gender from birth.

After authorities rejected an intersex person’s attempt to change their registered sex on the birth register, they were refused due to the fact that they had to register on official documents as male, female, or leave or the space blank.

Several lower courts had ruled against a bid for gender change to “inter” or “various” on the official document.

The person in question then to the challenge to a German high court, who ruled that the government would have to introduce new regulations so that an intersex gender option would be available on all official documents.

Ruling that current regulations on civil status are discriminatory against intersex people, the Federal Constitutional Court said that the German government had until the end of the year to implement the law.

“The legislature [parliament] has until 31 December 2018 to create a new regulation,” the ruling said.

“Courts and administrative authorities are no longer allowed to apply the relevant standards, insofar as they amount to an obligation to indicate sex to persons whose sex development has variations in relation to female or male sexual development and who therefore do not permanently assign themselves to male or female sex.”


“Bureaucratic and financial cost, or regulatory interests of the state, cannot justify the refusal of a new, positive option for registrations,” said a ruling published on Wednesday.

“The legislature could waive the entry of sex in the register.

“Instead, it may also give the affected persons the opportunity to choose another positive name for gender that is not male or female.”

Germany now joins the likes of Australia, India, New Zealand and Nepal in recognising a third gender on official documentation.