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Germany becomes first country in Europe to recognise "third gender" officially

Germany becomes first country in Europe to recognise

Germany's highest court ruled on Wednesday in favour of the introduction of a third gender category for people who do not identify as either male or female or are born with an ambiguous sexual anatomy.

The case was brought to the court by a person who was born intersex, which the United Nations defines as someone whose body at birth does not "fit the typical definitions for male or female".

Since 2013, it was possible to leave the gender box blank on birth certificates, for those born as intersex.

But Wednesday's ruling in the case, which was brought by an intersex person, goes further, requiring lawmakers to create the possibility for a "positive gender entry" for these babies.

A new option of "inter" or "diverse" must be added to birth certificates with the government given until 2018 to draw up guidelines, judges said.

The case was brought forward by an "intersex" individual, after many lower courts denied their request to include "inter" and "various" as identifiers at birth.




Though intersex people are already recognized on official documents in Australia, India, New Zealand, Nepal and the U.S. - where the first intersex birth certificate was issued a year ago - this decision makes Germany the first in Europe.

The Third Option group described the ruling as "historic", but said it is only the "first step on improving the situation of inter and transgender people". Some intersex people have both testicles and ovaries; others do not produce the hormones that determine the common binary gender characteristics.

Federal Minister of Family Affairs Katarina Barley welcomed the decision and called on the new government to attend to the issue as soon as it forms a coalition government.

The Federal Ministry of the Interior announced that it would respect and implement the ruling.

Until lawmakers fulfill the court ruling, courts and administrative authorities may no longer enforce the unconstitutional rules, the court ruled.

People who identify as intersex are already recognised on official documents in some countries, including Australia, India, New Zealand and Nepal.


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