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Sweden Repeals Trans Sterilization Law

by Jason St. Amand
National News Editor
Monday Feb 20, 2012
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Sweden’s officials said that they will repeal a policy that forces transgender persons to undergo sterilization if they want to legally change their gender, AllOut.org reported.

Last month, the Swedish government announced that they would not amend the 40-year-old law that many called "barbaric."

"It’s time to abolish the requirement for sterilization at sex change," leaders of the Christian Democrats wrote in an opinion piece.

"This is an incredible news for Sweden: it means that anyone will be able to have their true identity recognized without having to be sterilized," Ulrika Westerlund, president of the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights said. "It’s crucial that the new law comes into place as soon as possible."

The controversial law stated that any Swede who wants gender reassignment surgery must be 18 or older, a native citizen, unmarried and sterilized.

The Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare introduced an amendment that said the current legislation violates Article 3 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, protecting "the right to respect for [everyone’s] physical and mental integrity." Most members of the Swedish Parliament supported the amendment but it was blocked by a small conservative party.

Several LGBT activists and groups were outraged that the bill was not repealed last month. AllOut.org created an global campaign in order to have the country’s officials take action against the law -- the campaign became the largest online campaign in history supporting human rights for transgender people.

"Swedish activists have worked for years to lay the foundation for this victory and I am so proud that AllOut.org could build the international momentum that finally pushed Prime Minister Reinfeldt and party leaders to end this cruel practice," says Andre Banks, executive director of AllOut.org. "It’s a victory for Sweden, but it is also decisive for Europe. AllOut.org members across the continent will continue to push online and in Parliament until each of these appalling laws are thrown out with the trash."

When the government initially did not repeal the law, many saw it as unusual since Sweden has been one of the most progressive countries in the world when LGBT issues are concerned. In 2003, the country recognized marriage equality and allowed same-sex couples to marry.

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