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Sweden: Amended Transgender Law Now in Force

(Jan. 11, 2013) Effective January 1, 2013, <?Sweden's Law 1972:119 on the Determination of Sex in Some Cases (hereinafter Sex Determination Law) was extensively amended. Among other changes, a compulsory sterilization requirement (previously under§ 1) has been abolished; sex-change applicants no longer need to be unmarried or be Swedish nationals (one must just be registered in Sweden) (§§ 3 & 2, respectively); and a judgment or order on a gender change that has been issued by a foreign court or authority and that is deemed final will be valid in Sweden if at the time of the judgment or order the person was a national of that foreign country or a resident there (new§ 3a). (Lag (1972:119) om fastställande av könstillhörighet i vissa fall (Apr. 21, 1972, as last amended by law SFS[Svensk författningssamling, Swedish Code of Statutes] 2012:456, LAGEN.NU.) The Sterilization Law, referred to in Law 1972:119, was also extensively amended effective January 1, 2013. (Steriliseringslag (1975:580) (June 12, 1975, last amended by lawSFS 2012:457), LAGEN.NU.)

In addition, the Stockholm Administrative Court of Appeal (one of four administrative appeal courts in Sweden) announced on December 19, 2012, that the Sex Determination Law’s requirement that persons wishing to change their gender must undergo sterilization or else be lacking in the ability to reproduce in order to be eligible for the change is in violation of Chapter 2, section 6, of the Swedish Constitution as well as articles 8 and 14 of the European Convention of Human Rights. (Press Release, Linköpings Tingsrätt, Kravet på sterilisering vid könsbyte strider mot Europakonventionen (Dec. 19, 2012) [click on “Translate” at top of page for an English, machine-made translation]; The Constitution of Sweden [click on “The Instrument of Government” in right-side column] (last visited Jan. 9, 2013); & Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms as Amended by Protocols No. 11 and No. 14, Council of Europe Treaty Office website (last visited Jan. 10, 2013).)

The Court of Appeal held that the requirement must be removed and no longer be imposed when a person makes an application to change his or her gender, rejecting the appeal lodged by theSwedish National Board of Health and Welfare, which governs the application of the Sex Determination Law. In the past, applicants for a sex change not only had to undergo surgical sterilization, but also had to destroy any frozen sperm or eggs. (Press Release, supra; Court Slams Sex Change Forced Sterilization Clause, THE LOCAL (Mar. 14, 2012).)