Current Affairs

Euro court will not re-open trans case

PinkNews Staff Writer April 9, 2008
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The European Court of Human Rights will not re-examine the case of a Lithuanian transsexual who won there last September.

The seven judges ruled that Lithuania must implement new legislation on gender reassignment or pay damages.

The 28-year-old, known as Mr L, has been undergoing gender reassignment since 1998 including hormone treatment and breast removal, but was blocked from more treatment because of the laws in Lithuania.

He said he suffers daily embarrassment because he is still described as a woman on official documents.

“It took a few years of efforts for the ECHR to protect her right to change sex, as stipulated in the Civil Code,” the director of the Human Rights Monitoring Institute Henrikas Mickevicius told The Baltic Times.

“The irresponsible conduct of politicians has already cost a lot and may still have a higher price to Lithuanian taxpayers.”

Under EU law all member states must “facilitate” members of the LGBT community, meaning they must be kept free from discrimination.

September’s ECHR ruling found, by six votes to one, there had been a violation of Article 8 (right to respect for private life) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

However, the judges ruled that there had been no violation of Article 3 (prohibition of degrading treatment).

The court ruled that Lithuania, in order to meet Mr L’s claim for damages, must adopt subsidiary legislation to its Civil Code on gender-reassignment of transsexuals.

The court also decided, by six votes to one, that should those legislative measures prove impossible to adopt within three months of the judgment becoming final, it would award Mr L. 40,000 euros in respect of pecuniary damage.

He was also awarded 5,000 euros in respect of “non-pecuniary damage.”

The case concerned an application brought by a Lithuanian national, Mr L, who was born in 1978 and lives in Klaipeda, Lithuania.

At birth he was registered as a girl, with a name clearly identifiable as female.

However, from an early age, he felt his gender was male rather than female. He has been in a stable relationship with a woman since 1998.

In May 1997 Mr L consulted a micro-surgeon about gender reassignment, who recommended that he consult a psychologist.

He went to Vilnius Psychiatric Hospital for tests in November 1997, where (it was later confirmed) he was diagnosed as a transsexual.

On 16 December 1997 a doctor at Vilnius University Santariskes Hospital also diagnosed the applicant as a transsexual and advised that he consult a psychologist.

An entry in the applicant’s medical file of 28 January 1998 included a recommendation that he pursue hormone treatment with a view to eventual gender reassignment surgery, following which he was officially prescribed hormone treatment for two months.

The applicant submits that in 1999 his doctor refused to prescribe hormone therapy, in view of the legal uncertainty as to whether or not full gender reassignment could be legally carried out.

Thereafter the applicant continued the hormone treatment “unofficially”.

In 1999 the applicant went to Vilnius University, where his request to be registered under his chosen male name was accepted on compassionate grounds.

However, his request the same year – that his name on all official documents be changed to reflect his male identity – was refused.

From 3 to 9 May 2000 the applicant underwent “partial gender reassignment surgery”, namely a breast removal procedure, in the light of the new Lithuanian Civil Code which was due to be adopted.

Article 2.27 § 1 of the Code, which entered into force on 1 July 2003, provides that “an unmarried adult has the right to gender reassignment in a medical way, if that is medically possible”.

The second paragraph of the provision said: “the conditions and procedure for gender reassignment shall be established by law”.

The applicant agreed with the doctors that a further surgical step would be carried out following the adoption of the relevant laws governing those “conditions and procedures”.

No such laws have as yet been adopted.

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