The decision, announced today by the Supreme Court of South Korea, that having underage boys and girls should not be an immediate reason to refuse legal gender recognition for transgender people represents an important human rights step. This was expressed by Amnesty International today.
“This Supreme Court decision opens the door to greater recognition of the rights of transgender people, but there is still a long way to go given the high degree of discrimination and stigma that LGBTI people experience in South Korean society,” said Jihyun Yoon. Director of Amnesty International Korea.
By making this decision (and partially overturning the previous 2011 decision), the Supreme Court upheld the right of transgender people to dignity, happiness and family life.
The Court emphasized that trans people have the right to legal recognition based on their gender identity and have the same rights and obligations as provided by law to have a family life. In addition, she added that legal recognition of gender identity does not fundamentally change the responsibilities or position of transgender parents or the rights of underage children.
In South Korea, there is no law governing the legal recognition of gender identity, which means that those seeking such recognition must apply to the courts, according to the “Guidelines for handling a request for permission to legally change gender”. people” was adopted by the Supreme Court in 2006.
These guidelines include abusive or discriminatory requirements, such as not having children under the age of 19, and that applicants are at least 19 years old, single, diagnosed as “transgender”, and having taken hormones before. therapy. sterilization.
Jihyun Yoon commented, “This decision addresses only one of the many discriminatory requirements in the guidelines, but it could be an important step towards defecting the legal gender recognition process in South Korea.” said.
“The government must ensure that legal recognition of gender identity is not dependent on a psychiatric diagnosis, medical treatment such as forced sterilization and surgical genital reconstruction, or other abusive or discriminatory requirements such as marital status or the fact of not having children. Instead, there should be a swift, accessible and transparent administrative process based on individual self-determination.”
South Korea’s Supreme Court has granted legal recognition of gender identity for the first time in 11 years since a 2011 decision denying such recognition of a person with minor grandchildren (under the age of 19).
Amnesty International submitted a report to the Supreme Court on international legal standards on the right to legal recognition of gender identity.
According to research commissioned by the National Human Rights Commission of South Korea in 2020, the prerequisites set by the courts and the financial, physical and mental burden they entail contributed to many transgender people choosing not to seek legal identification.
The right to legal recognition of gender identity derives from a number of fundamental human rights protected by both national and international law, including the rights to self-determination, privacy and health.
Without legal recognition of gender identity and other social reforms to remove stigma, transgender people are more likely to continue to suffer violence and discrimination and to suffer a range of negative social and economic consequences, including lack of access to employment.
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