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Cyprus

Legal recognition of gender change a must, MPs hear

The Pride March in 2015

The House human rights committee discussed on Monday the issue of the legal recognition of gender change, which committee head Stella Kyriakidou, said concerns 8,500 people in Cyprus.

She described it as an issue of self-determination and not a medical or psychiatric condition.

Today, she said, there is no legal framework concerning this issue, nor is there a standard procedure that people who wish to legally change their gender identity can follow.

Kyriakidou said her committee has given the interior ministry’s services three months to provide MPs with information on the issue.

“We need to move on, societies change and we cannot fall behind, especially when it comes to human rights,” Kyriakidou said.

Akel MP Evanthia Savva, said that the rights of transgender people are being breached as there is no legal framework for the recognition of gender change. “We expect to hear the interior minister’s point of view on the matter,” Savva said.

Human Rights Commissioner Eliza Savvidou said that the last five years, around 20 trans people turned to her office requesting the change of their official documents so that they reflect their gender identity. These people, she said, also told her about the obstacles they face at administrative level.

“This procedure must be based on self-determination, be of administrative nature, fast, transparent, unobtrusive, not depend on any medical precondition and breach no human right,” Savvidou said in a memo to MPs.

The head of Accept-LGBTI Cyprus, Costas Gavrielides, stressed the importance of the state allowing trans people define their gender according to whichever sex they feel they belong to.

Trans people face many practical difficulties, he said, as they cannot change their ID cards and their birth certificates.

A legal intervention on the issue is necessary, he said.

Gavrielides had said last month that the group would like to see a bill on the change of gender identity by early next year. At present, the group said, trans people are treated as using fake documents when their gender identity is not the same as that indicated on their ID card and they are forced to reveal they are trans without them wanting to do so.

The heads of the Disy, Akel, and Diko political parties have already expressed their support for the legal amendment.

The promotion of the issue of the legal recognition of gender change has also been brought up by the Council of Europe, whose chair Cyprus will assume on November 22 until May 19, 2017.

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