A human rights court ruling against France has been hailed by transgender activists as a milestone in their bid to stop forced sterilisation in Europe.
In its 6 March judgement of the complaint A.P., Garçon and Nicot v. France (application nos. 79885/12, 52471/13 and 52596/13), Strasbourg judges declared that the requirement to undergo sterilisation or treatment involving a very high probability of sterility, in order to change the entries on birth certificates was in breach of the right to respect for private life.
The decision was considered a “victory,” by Julia Ehrt, Executive Director of Transgender Europe. “This decision ends the dark chapter of state induced sterilisation in Europe. The 22 states in which a sterilisation is still mandatory will have to swiftly end this practice.”
The European Court of Human Rights held:
by six votes to one, that there had been a violation of Article 8 (right to respect for private life) of the European Convention on Human Rights in respect of E. Garçon and S. Nicot, on account of the obligation to establish the irreversible nature of the change in their appearance;
by a majority, that there had been no violation of Article 8 of the Convention in respect of E. Garçon on account of the obligation to prove that he actually suffered from gender identity disorder and in respect of A.P. on account of the obligation to undergo a medical examination.
The applicants submitted, among other points, that the authorities had infringed their right to respect for their private life by making recognition of sexual identity conditional on undergoing an operation involving a high probability of sterility.
The court held, in particular, that making recognition of the sexual identity of transgender persons conditional on undergoing an operation or sterilising treatment to which they did not wish to submit amounted to making the full exercise of one’s right to respect for private life conditional on relinquishing full exercise of the right to respect for one’s physical integrity.
Just satisfaction (Article 41)
The court considered that, in the circumstances of the case, the finding of a violation of Article 8 of the convention constituted sufficient just satisfaction, and considered it reasonable to award E. Garçon and S. Nicot, each, 958.40 euros in respect of costs and expenses.