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Norway: Legal gender recognition will become easy and accessible

    April 10, 2015

    An Amnesty International Norway Release

    During a press conference on Friday 10 April an expert group appointed by the Norwegian Ministry of Health and Care presented its report "Right to right gender - health to all genders" to Minister of Health and Care Bent Høie (Conservative Party).

    The expert group clearly expressed that the current practice for legal gender recognition is a violation of fundamental human rights, and stressed the need for change. The expert group recommended the establishment of a transparent and accessible procedure for legal gender recognition based on the individual's perception of gender identity, without any requirement for a period of reflection. The expert group's recommendations are in line with Amnesty International’s assessments.

    “The expert group has proposed a decent procedure for legal gender recognition. Now the government has to follow up quickly, in order to avoid that those affected will have to wait much longer to get their identification papers and other public documents in order,” said Patricia Kaatee, Amnesty International Norway’s political advisor.

    Key promises from Bent Høie

    Minister of Health and Care Bent Høie stressed that Norway wants to be a leader when it comes to human rights. He admitted that this at present is not the case when it comes to the rights of transgender persons. This has to change, was his clear message during the press conference.

    Høie also used the occasion to commend the organizations and individuals who have been in the forefront of campaigning for transgender people’s rights in Norway.

    Successful campaigning

    John Jeanette Solstad Remø has been denied to have her gender recognized legally because she refuses to comply with the present extensive and highly discriminatory requirements for legal gender recognition.  This past year, Amnesty activists worldwide have taken action for John Jeanette and her right to legal gender recognition.

    “This is everything I have dreamt of and hoped for. It was worth the fight. It took a long time, but when the results of our work finally came, it felt great.  Without Amnesty's support we wouldn't have got to where we are today. Even Minister of Health and Care Bent Høie said it made a big difference to the process within the government,” John Jeanette Solstad Remø said after the press conference.

    She is really glad for all the positive attention her case has received.

    “The support we have had from people worldwide has been fantastic. I didn't expect it, and I'd like to warmly thank everyone who has supported me and others in this fight.”

    Strong criticism of Norway

    In February 2014, Amnesty International published a report on the lack of rights for transgender people in Europe. Norway was criticized for the current administrative practices that require irreversible sterilization in order achieve legal gender recognition.

    Amnesty International has campaigned to establish a quick and accessible procedure for legal gender recognition based on the individual’s perception of gender identity ever since. During Amnesty International Norway’s biannual meeting last October Minister of Europe Vidar Helgesen promised change would come.

    “This is happening because Amnesty has put this issue on the agenda,” Helgesen said.

    LLH: Government can be historical

    Not only has Amnesty International has raised this issue in Norway. Since their congress in 2008, the Norwegian National association for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people (LLH) worked specifically with transgender rights, including the removal of the requirement of irreversible sterilization to legal gender recognition.

    “It is about time that transgender people get both rights and access to health services that responds to their needs. This government places itself into the history books if they commit to take the rights of its vulnerable minorities with the seriousness they deserve and need. We hope Norwegian authorities urgently follow up on the recommendations of the expert group,” said the head of LLH, Bård Nylund. 


    For further information, please contact Elizabeth Berton-Hunter, Media Relations, 416-363-9933 ext 332