Czech court removes surgery requirement for gender transition

FILE PHOTO: Participants attend the Prague Pride Parade

PRAGUE (Reuters) - The Czech Constitutional Court has struck down a legal requirement for transgender people to undergo surgery before they are able to officially complete their transition, the court said on Tuesday.

The move brings the central European country in line with most members of the EU and was welcomed by human rights activists.

Under current law, Czech transgender people have to undergo sex organ surgery and sterilisation, leaving them unable to reproduce, before officially completing their transition.

That legal requirement was "at odds with the fundamental right of trans people for the protection of their physical integrity in relation to their human dignity," the court said in a statement on its ruling.

It gave parliament until mid-2025 to adopt a relevant legislative change.

Parliament must obey the court ruling but can set other requirements, such as gathering expert opinions and allowing the passage of a period of time, before a transition is officially recognised, the court said.

The ruling centre-right coalition had so far been unable to come to agreement on changing the law, but now, "the Constitutional Court (has given) clear instruction by its ruling," Justice Minister Pavel Blazek said on social network X.

The court ruling addressed a complaint by a man who was registered as female at birth, and wished to change that assignment without undergoing surgery.

In the Czech Republic, identity numbers given to people at birth and used in documents reveal a person's sex. The Czech language also has different endings for the surnames of males or females.

Non-government organisation Trans*parent, which organised a petition demanding the legal change, welcomed the decision.

"We made a step forward. However now the government has to act," it said on Instagram.

(Reporting by Jan Lopatka; Editing by Bernadette Baum)