Group demands payout for forced sterilizations

The Local Sweden
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Group demands payout for forced sterilizations

Swedish rights organization RFSL is demanding Sweden pay damages to sex change candidates forced by law to undergo sterilization in order to qualify for gender corrective surgery.


Ulrika Westerlund, chairwoman for the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights (RFSL) told national broadcaster Sveriges Radio (SR) that other groups forced to go through sterilization in Sweden have been awarded damages through legislation.

“We haven’t seen any initiative from lawmakers so we think that this can be taken through court instead,” Westerlund told SR.

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

In new legislation presented by the government this spring, the conditions that sex change candidates are unmarried and Swedish citizens were scrapped. But despite heated debates and criticism from international rights organizations, the sterilization condition remained.

In total, some one hundred people in Sweden have been forced to go through with the procedure due to gender corrective surgery.

Now RFSL, its youth wing, as well as the transgender group FPES and the rights organization Diskrimineringsbyrån, are using social media to get in touch with people who were sterilized in connection with gender corrective operations in hopes of getting them to file a joint law suit.

According to Westerlund there has been an enormous interest since the organization launched the project on a small scale during the Stockholm Pride week in August:

“Some may have known about it before but now it is spreading. We have had a significant number of calls in just a few hours," she told SR.

In 1999, Sweden agreed to compensate some 63,000 people, mostly women, who were sterilized in Sweden from 1935 to 1975 based on eugenics and the desire to weed out "inferiors" to create a stronger Swedish race.

Mentally disabled people, epileptics and people with alleged social problems were forced to undergo sterilization or pressured them to agree to the operation in order to be allowed to marry or be released from mental institutions.

The state offered each individual up to 175,000 kronor ($26,000) in damages.

TT/The Local/rm

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