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Human rights group slams sex change laws

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12:48 CET+01:00
Sweden's forced sterilization for sex change candidates continues to spark debate, as organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) has written a letter to prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, urging him to reconsider the law.

Despite a majority in support for the proposal, Sweden's Riksdag recently postponed the move to scrap Swedish laws requiring compulsory sterilization for people undergoing gender reassignment surgery, following opposition from the Christian Democrats.

According to legislation passed in 1972, to undergo a sex change operation a person must be over 18-years-old, a Swedish citizen, be sterilized and unmarried.

In HRW's letter to Reinfeldt, Boris Dittrich, advocacy director of HRW's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender program, wrote of the organization's concerns that while changing the law to exclude the rules on married status and citizenship, the Swedish government still hasn't removed the compulsory sterilization condition.

"The Swedish law causes anguish for transgender people who choose not to have the required surgery, involving an invasive medical procedure, for various reasons such as out of a wish to one day become parents," wrote Dittrich, citing frequent public humiliation and vulnerability to discrimination as risks for those whose identification documents do not match their gender.

HRW describes Sweden's current legislation as outdated.

"The Swedish transgender law stems from 1972 and is out of step with current international best practice and understandings of Swedish obligations under international human rights law."

All Riksdag parties bar the Christian Democrats support a rewritten sex change law.

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