German court rules in favour of third gender category

Germany’s top court tells lawmakers to recognize ‘third gender

Germany’s top court tells lawmakers to recognize ‘third gender

The ruling, which left open the possibility of scrapping gender entries entirely from the birth register, makes Germany the first European country to allow a third gender on the birth registry.

Germany's constitutional court has given the country's parliament until December 31, 2018, to pass legislation authorizing "intersex" birth certificates, the BBC reported Wednesday.

The court ruled that the current system, which "does not provide for a third option besides the entry "female" or "male" is unconstitutional.

A law went into effect in November 2013 that said that parents in Germany no longer had to select male or female when registering their babies.

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The Federal Constitutional Court called on lawmakers to enact legislation by the end of 2018 to either allow the introduction of a third category or dispense with gender altogether in civil status documents. In a landmark ruling, the court said that an intersex person, who is neither male nor female, is entitled to register their gender as such.

Intersex people are born with a mixture of male and female sex characteristics.

Wednesday's decision overturned a ruling by a lower court previous year in a case brought by a German citizen born in 1989, identified as Vanja by the Third Option campaign group that supported the plaintiff in the case.

"Assignment to a gender is of paramount importance for individual identity; it typically plays a key role both in the self-image of a person and in the way in which the person concerned is perceived by others".

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The judges ruled that the law doesn't define gender as binary, so the government can not force citizens to leave the form blank.

The activist group, Third Option - which has been campaigning for official recognition - said that it was "completely overwhelmed" and rendered "speechless" by the decision. "That's a small revolution in the gender area", the group said in a tweet.

The United Nations' Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner says according to experts between 0.5 percent and 1.7 percent of the global population is born with intersex traits that do not fit male or female bodies, including genitals, gonads and chromosome patterns. And earlier this year, California became the second USA state (after New York) to allow state residents who don't identify as male or female to change their birth certificates to match their gender identity.

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