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Germany has approved plans to legally recognise a third gender

Josh Jackman August 15, 2018
German Chancellor Angela Merkel

German Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel (Adam Berry/Getty)

Germany’s government has approved plans to introduce a third gender on official forms.

In November, the highest court in the country ruled in favour of an intersex person and ordered the Parliament to legally recognise a third gender from birth or remove gender from documents.

Germany was the first European nation to introduce the option for parents to select a blank option on birth forms, rather than ‘male’ or ‘female,’ taking the leap in 2013.

BERLIN, GERMANY - JULY 28: Participants gather for the 40th Christopher Street Day gay pride march on July 28, 2018 in Berlin, Germany. Known as CSD, the event attracts thousands of people every year. This parade takes place for the 40th time this year. (Photo by Carsten Koall/Getty Images)
A Pride march in Berlin (Carsten Koall/Getty)

The landmark move, which will replace the blank choice with an option called “diverse,” still needs parliamentary approval, according to the Associated Press.

Franziska Giffey, the centre-left minister for family affairs, said the cabinet’s approval was “an important step toward the legal recognition of people whose gender identity is neither male nor female.”

In June, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier asked for forgiveness over the “suffering and injustice” caused to gay people under Nazi rule and in the decades after.

BERLIN, GERMANY - MARCH 14: German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier speaks during a ceremony to confirm the members of the new German government cabinet at Schloss Bellevue palace on March 14, 2018 in Berlin, Germany. Members of the new German government, a coalition between Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU) and Social Democrats (SPD), were sworn in today and will begin work immediately. The new government took the longest to create of any government in modern German history following elections last September that left the German Christian Democrats (CDU) as the strongest party but with too few votes in order to have a strong hand in determining the next coalition. (Photo by Michele Tantussi/Getty Images)
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier (Michele Tantussi/Getty)

The president was speaking at a ceremony in Berlin which marked the 10th anniversary of a monument commemorating the gay men persecuted by the Nazis.

He said: “The German state has inflicted heavy suffering on all these people, particularly under the Nazis, but also after that, in East Germany and also under the basic law.”

Steinmeier added that the ceremony honoured the “many tens of thousands of people whose private spheres, lives, love and dignity were infringed upon, denied and violated.”

Some 50,000 homosexuals – mostly gay men – were officially sentenced by the Nazis, although up to 100,000 were arrested.

Pink triangle at concentration camp
Gay men in a Nazi concentration camp

It’s estimated that between 5,000 and 15,000 were sent to concentration camps. Other punishments included torture and prison.

Steinmeier told the crowd: “For this reason, I am asking for forgiveness today — for all the suffering and injustice and for the long silence that followed.”

Earlier this year, Canada announced that it would recognise third gender options and let people self-identify on government surveys and forms.

Taiwan moved towards adding a third gender to passports in January.

Supporters of same-sex rights take selfies during a gay pride parade in Taipei on October 28, 2017. Downtown Taipei was a sea of rainbow flags and glitzy costumes on October 28 as tens of thousands marched in Asia's largest gay pride parade, the first since Taiwan's top court ruled in favour of gay marriage. / AFP PHOTO / SAM YEH (Photo credit should read SAM YEH/AFP/Getty Images)
Taiwan moved towards adding a third gender to passports in January (SAM YEH/AFP/Getty)

Australia, Austria, Denmark, Germany, Malta, New Zealand, Pakistan, India, Ireland and Nepal have also introduced, or are in the process of introducing a third gender option on official documents.

Some states in the US have also added a third gender to forms.

Washington announced that it would recognise non-binary people earlier this year, by putting ‘X’ alongside ‘M’ and ‘F’ on documents like driving licenses and birth certificates.

Washington DC, on the other side of the country from Washington state, became the first US territory to create an official third gender last year.

Oregon, Washington, DC and California have all moved towards adding a third gender to forms (Mark Makela/Getty)

Just two days after DC passed its law in June, Oregon’s law came into effect, making it the first US state to legally recognise non-binary people.

“This change in ID is a huge piece of validation for me,” J Gibbons, a non-binary, transgender Portland resident said at the time.

And in October, California followed suit – though its law will only be implemented in 2019.

More: Europe, gender, Germany, Germany, Government, non-binary, Politics, Third Gender, Trans, Transgender

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