Forced sterilisation in exchange for gender recognition

Back to all Motions

2019 National LGBT+ Conference
26 July 2019
Carried as Amended

Conference notes its outrage that the rights of the trans community remain under sustained attack around the world. It is still the case that in many countries there are laws in place which force transgender people to be sterilised before changing their gender.

In January 2019 the Supreme Court of Japan upheld ‘Law 111’ which “forces transgender people to be sterilised before they can legally change their gender.” Conference is shocked that at least 21 other countries have a policy of forcing sterilisation before allowing their citizens to present in their true identity. Staggeringly, 14 of these countries are in Europe, including Finland and Luxemburg. Indeed, it is only in the last 5 years that France, the Netherlands, and Belgium abolished their own requirements for sterilisation.

In 2016 in a letter to the UN Human Rights Watch stated that Japan’s law “forces all transgender people who want to secure legal recognition of their appropriate gender – including those who would not otherwise choose to take these steps— to undergo physically transformative surgical interventions, undergo sterilization, and contemplate the breakup of existing marriages”. Conference affirms that this is true of any country where sterilisation is a requirement of recognition.

Conference acknowledges that this continuing situation has a dire impact on the health and wellbeing of trans people globally. We also cannot legitimately criticise the Japanese government if ignoring the practice in our own back yard.

LGBT+ rights are a global issue; UNISON has stood with international organisations to fight discrimination before, and it is vital that we continue this fine tradition. In many other respects Japan could be counted as a progressive Asian country for LGBT+ people; we must work with them to ensure that progression continues.

Conference calls on the National LGBT+ Committee to:

1)Work with the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) to identify viable actions to tackle forced sterilisation of trans individuals across Europe.

2)Work together with and support Japanese trade unions and Japanese LGBT+ charities to tackle this issue.

3)Work with UNISON’s International Unit to promote awareness of this issue.