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Spain backs bill allowing teenagers to change official gender without medical checks

Spain backs bill allowing teenagers to change official gender without medical checks

Spain’s government has approved a draft law that would allow anyone aged 14 and over to change their gender on official documents without the need for hormone treatment or a medical report, and which would also ban conversion therapies and strengthen the rights of LGBTI people.

The proposed measures – which follow months of wrangling between the Spanish Socialist Worker’s party (PSOE) and its junior coalition partners in the far-left, anti-austerity Podemos party – would abolish the existing legislation that requires people wishing to change their gender to obtain a diagnosis of gender dysphoria and undergo hormone treatment.

Under the provisions of the “draft law for real and effective equality for trans people and for guaranteeing LGBTI rights”, only those aged 12 and over would be allowed to change their gender. Those aged between 12 and 14 would need judicial authorisation, while anyone aged 14 to 16 would need the consent of their legal representative – usually a family member. Those aged 16 and over would face no restrictions.

Spain’s equality minister, Irene Montero, said the country was “making history” with a law that represented “a giant step forward for LGTBI rights – and particularly those of trans people”.

“This law once again puts us at the forefront of Europe when it comes to recognising the rights of LGBT people – and particularly trans people – and I think that’s really important,” Montero said.

The law would also offer assisted reproduction to lesbian and bisexual women and to “trans people who can become pregnant”, recognise both mothers in unmarried same-sex female couples when registering births, protect the rights of intersex people, and ensure diversity was addressed in the school curriculum.

Montero said the bill, which would be reviewed and put before parliament, was needed at a time when parts of Europe were questioning the rights and freedoms of LGBTI people.

“I think we’re not just launching a clear message when it comes to the protection and defence of everyone, and particularly LGBT and trans people, but also to Europe as a whole, which is that human rights and guaranteeing the freedom, dignity and happiness of everyone – whoever they are and whoever they love – are the foundations of the European project,” she said.

Although the draft law has caused tensions between Podemos and some women’s groups – including parts of the PSOE – Montero said it was “feminist” legislation designed to guarantee basic rights and freedoms.

“The people who have driven this law are LGBT people – particularly trans people – but it’s also been driven by the women and the feminists of this country,” she said.

“This is a feminist law that understands that if we don’t all get there – if we can’t all get off the sticky floor, or eliminate all the discrimination we’re subjected to – then none of us does. There are also thousands of feminist women in our country, and I’m one of them, who … are also convinced that a country that guarantees human rights is a country whose society is better, freer, and more feminist, which makes it better for everyone.”

The conservative People’s party dismissed the draft law as proof of the extent to which the prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, relied on “radical ideological minorities” to stay in power.

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