Spain passes law allowing anyone over 16 to legally change gender

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New legislation also bans conversion therapy and introduce menstrual leave

Spain’s parliament has approved new legislation that will allow anyone over the age of 16 to change their legally registered gender without medical evaluation.

Under previous rules, transgender people needed a diagnosis by several doctors of gender dysphoria.

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The new transgender law means that anyone aged over 16 will be able to change their gender on official documents without medical supervision.

Now, they can identify as another gender and confirm it three months later. Minors aged between 12 and 13-years-old will need a judge’s authorisation to change, while those aged between 14 and 16 will need to be accompanied by their parents or legal guardians.

The Spanish parliament has approved legislation expanding abortion and transgender rights for teenagers (Photo: Getty Images)The Spanish parliament has approved legislation expanding abortion and transgender rights for teenagers (Photo: Getty Images)
The Spanish parliament has approved legislation expanding abortion and transgender rights for teenagers (Photo: Getty Images) | AFP via Getty Images

A second law approved on Thursday (16 February) also bans so-called “conversion therapy” for LGBTQ people and provides state support for lesbians and single women seeking IVF treatment.

The driving force behind the laws was equality minister Irene Montero, who is part of Spain’s left-wing coalition government, the United We Can Party.

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In a separate package of reforms given approval, changes to sexual and reproductive rights mean that 16 and 17-year-olds in Spain can now undergo an abortion without parental consent.

Spain also became the first country in Europe to entitle workers to paid menstrual leave, allowing women suffering debilitating period pain to take paid time off.

Period products will now be offered for free in schools and prisons, while state-run health centres will do the same with hormonal contraceptives and the morning after pill.

In addition, the changes enshrine in law the right to have an abortion in a state hospital. Currently more than 80% of termination procedures in Spain are carried out in private clinics due to a high number of doctors in the public system who refuse to perform them — with many citing religious reasons.

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Under the new system, state hospital doctors would not be forced to carry out abortions, provided they had already registered their objections in writing.

The abortion law builds on legislation passed in 2010 that represented a major shift for a traditionally Catholic country, transforming Spain into one of the most progressive countries in Europe on reproductive rights.

Spain’s constitutional court last week rejected a challenge by the right-wing Popular Party against allowing abortions in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy. The initiatives have met strong opposition from the right-wing parties that form Spain’s main opposition bloc.

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