HELSINKI -- Lawmakers in Finland approved amendments Wednesday that will make it substantially easier for people to change their legally recognized gender in the Nordic country.
The amendments, which are expected to take effect as soon as possible, also abolish a provision that required transgender people to provide a medical certificate proving they were infertile or sterilized before the government would recognize their gender identity. That part of the existing law was intended to keep transgender individuals from having children.
Finland’s 200-seat parliament, the Eduskunta, voted 113-69 in favor of making the changes, which lawmakers fiercely debated in recent months.
The bill allows transgender individuals who are 18 or older in Finland to legally change their genders by self-declaration without having to supply a psychiatric assessment and the certificate on their ability to reproduce. To prevent misuse of the revised law, such requests only can be made once a year.
“By passing this act, Finland has taken a major step towards protecting trans people’s rights and improving their lives and right to self-determination,” Matti Pihlajamaa, Amnesty International Finland's LGBTI rights advisor, said in a statement.
Prime Minister Sanna Marin has earlier said that getting the amendments approved was a priority for her center-left government still during the Cabinet’s remaining two months in office. Finland will hold general election in early April.
Spain approved legislation allowing gender changes by self-declaration last month, while the British government vetoed a similar bill that lawmakers in Scotland passed in December.