Rights court convicts Romania for gender identity stance

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Strasbourg (France) (AFP)

The European Court of Human Rights on Tuesday convicted Romania of violating the rights of two people to change their gender identity without also undergoing sex change surgery.

Two Romanian nationals, aged 44 and 38, and registered as female at birth, had their request to change their gender refused on the grounds that they did not provide proof of a sex change operation.

The court said the ruling by the Romanian authorities put the two, who did not want a surgical sex change, before "an insoluble dilemma".

Either they had to agree to an operation against their wishes and give up their right to physical integrity, or they had to give up their right to get their gender identity recognised -- both rights fall under the protection of "private life", the court said.

The Romanian stance placed the people concerned in a situation of "vulnerability, humiliation and anxiety", and failed to "fairly balance" the general interest against the interest of the people concerned, the court said.

The ECHR's judges condemned Romania unanimously and sentenced the government to pay 7,500 euros ($9,100) in moral damages to each of the plaintiffs.

One of them was also awarded 1,153 euros in material damages after undergoing operations to change their female genitals.