Swedish government upholds forced sterilisation for transgender people

Members of the Swedish government announced last week the governing coalition would not seek to repeal current requirements for transgender people to be sterilised before the state recognises their gender. Members of the European Parliament call on Sweden to press ahead with these changes.

Swedish flagSweden currently requires transgender people to undergo sterilisation before they see their gender officially recognised. The European Commissioner for Human Rights has argued this amounts to degrading treatment, in breach of the right to dignity and physical integrity.

Forced sterilisation breaches Article 3 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, which protects the right to physical integrity. The European Parliament had already called for the World Health Organization to stop classifying transgender people as mentally ill.

Other European countries such as Austria, Germany, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom recently ended state-enforced sterilisation, with the Netherlands expected to do so in early 2012. Sweden previously pushed for positive human rights and transgender policies within the European Union, the Council of Europe and the United Nations.

Raül Romeva i Rueda, Green MEP from Spain, commented: “The government’s decision is rather surprising: forcibly sterilising transgender people is recognised as inhumane across the political spectrum. It’s barbaric, outdated and highly unnecessary—not to mention against Sweden’s human rights commitments.”

Sirpa Pietikäinen, Finnish centre-right MEP, added that “Mr Reinfeldt’s government should remember that a person’s dignity and integrity are cornerstone values for Christian Democrats. For transgender people, this means being free to undergo the changes they wish to, no more and no less. This isn’t about LGBT rights; it’s about human rights and torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.”