Portugal’s president blocks gender change bill

Portugal’s president has blocked a bill which would have made it easier for teenagers to change their gender identity on official documents.

The bill, passed on April 13, would have allowed citizens as young as 16 to change their gender identity without needing a medical report, as long as they had parental consent.

President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa sent the bill back to parliament with the request lawmakers add a mandatory medical report for minors.

He said he understood the reasons for the bill but added it “seems reasonable” for there to be a “medical evaluation early on.”

The announcement is not fatal to the bill however as Portugal’s constitution means lawmakers can either include the proposed change or it needs an absolute majority to pass as it is.

The bill was hailed as a breakthrough for trans rights in Portugal (MOREIRA/AFP/Getty)

The LGBT+ organisation ILGA Portugal commented: “We believe that the Portuguese Parliament has the power to overcome this veto.

“It is necessary to take this path to the full guarantee of human rights for all trans persons.”

The organisation ILGA-Europe added young people must be able to access a legal gender recognition procedure that is fair and trusts them to know who they are.

The bill, hailed as “groundbreaking” by activists, allows citizens aged between 16 and 18 to change their gender and name in documents without the need for a medical report, with the approval of their parents or legal representatives.

It would also ban unnecessary surgery on intersex children, which activists say can cause pain and other lifelong problems.

Under the previous law, people wanting to change their gender on official documents had to be at least aged 18 and present a medical report.

The new law would make Portugal the sixth European country to adopt a “self-identification” gender recognition law, alongside Malta, Norway, Denmark, Ireland and Belgium.

It received the support of a parliamentary majority in April after MPs heard from trans people, their families, activists and experts.

At the time, Isabel Moreira, an MP from the country’s Socialist party, told DN that the move was “a historic step towards the right to self-determination of gender and sexual equality”.

In 2011, Portugal passed legislation allowing trans citizens to change their legal gender on their birth certificates.

The Portuguese Parliament also voted to outlaw employment discrimination on the basis on gender identity in 2015.

In the UK, citizens need to be 18 years old to legally change their gender and require a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria. Many people choose not to do so, as it can be a lengthy and invasive process.