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German lawmakers approve new gender self-determination law

In World
April 12, 2024

Germany’s lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, has passed into law new regulations making it easier for people to change their first name and gender identity in official records.

The reforms, which will take effect in November, allow people to make the changes with a simple procedure at government registry offices.

The changes primarily affect transgender, intersex and non-binary people, many of whom have advocated for the reforms.

Under current law, people seeking to change their names or officially registered genders are required to obtain expert medical assessments and a court decision. Many advocates described those requirements as onerous and humiliating.

“As trans people, we experience time and again that our dignity is made a matter of negotiation,” Green lawmaker Nyke Slawik, herself a transwoman who changed her legal gender under the current law, said on Friday.

The vote in the Bundestag was contentious and, at times, highly emotional. It passed on a vote of 374 to 251, with support coming from Chancellor Olaf Scholz‘s three-party coalition as well as the far-left Die Linke party.

Conservatives from the centre-right CDU/CSU opposition bloc and the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), as well as the populist Sahra Wagenknecht Alliance (BSW), vehemently opposed the change but were outvoted.

Members of parliament vote during the 164th session of the Bundestag. Britta Pedersen/dpa

Members of parliament vote during the 164th session of the Bundestag. Britta Pedersen/dpa

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