The Swedish government announced Thursday that it would not seek to review current requirements for transgender people to be sterilised before the state recognises their identity. Members of the European Parliament call on Sweden to press ahead with these changes.
The move has surprised policymakers, who normally regard Sweden as a progressive Member State. It previously pushed for positive human rights and transgender policies within the European Union, the Council of Europe and the United Nations.
Forced sterilisation breaches Article 3 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, which protects the right to physical integrity. The European Parliament had already called for the World Health Organization to stop classifying transgender people as mentally ill.
Raül Romeva i Rueda MEP, Vice-President of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBT Rights, commented: “The government’s decision is rather surprising: forcibly sterilising transgender people is one issue recognised as inhumane across the political spectrum. It’s barbaric, outdated and highly unnecessary—not to mention against Sweden’s human rights commitments.”
Sirpa Pietikäinen MEP, another Vice-President of the LGBT Intergroup, added that “Mr Reinfeldt’s government should remember that a person’s dignity and integrity are cornerstone values for Christian Democrats. For transgender people, this means being free to undergo the changes they wish to, no more and no less. I see no reason to postpone such a crucial legal reform… The current laws wreaks lives!”
In Germany and Austria, courts have already ruled that state-enforced sterilisation was a breach of fundamental right, and struck off the procedure.