ECHR says Finnish marriage rules fair for transsexuals

17th July 2014, Comments 0 comments

A transsexual from Finland who said she was being compelled to convert her marriage to a civil partnership in order to be recognised as a woman had her case rejected by Europe's rights court on Wednesday.

The woman, who underwent gender reassignment surgery in 2009, had complained that Finnish authorities had refused to recognise her as a woman on official documentation until she changed her marriage status.

But the European Court of Human Rights ruled that it was "not disproportionate to require the conversion of a marriage into a registered partnership as a precondition to legal recognition of an acquired gender".

Judges at the Strasbourg-based court said civil partnerships in Finland offer legal protection for same-sex couples "almost identical to that of marriage."

They also said that changing the relationship status would not affect the paternity of a daughter born to the couple, or the responsibility either of them has for her care.

Heli Hamalainen, who brought the case, was born male in 1963 and married a woman in 1996. They had a child in 2002, and seven years later, he underwent surgery to become a woman.

Afterwards, however, local authorities refused to modify Hamalainen's identity number to indicate her female gender in official documents unless her wife agreed to convert the marriage into a civil partnership.

The couple objected, saying divorce went against their religious beliefs and offered less security than a marriage.

Hamalainen had brought proceedings against the decision in Finland before taking the case to the ECHR.

However, the court decided there had not been a breach of the right to respect for private and family life in this case, nor had their been any discrimination against the couple because of Hamalainen's change of gender.

© 2014 AFP

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