BERLIN, Aug. 15 (Xinhua) -- German federal government passed a cabinet motion on Wednesday to introduce a third "divers" (literally meaning diverse in German) sexuality option in the country's official birth registry.
The move comes in response to a landmark ruling by the Federal Constitutional Court back in 2017 concerning the official treatment of intersexual citizens for whom a definitive biological allocation to "male" or "female" categories cannot be made. The verdict by the Karlsruhe-based judges found at the time that forcing such individuals to select one of two inappropriate constituted a serious breach of their identity rights under the German constitution.
"A modernization of civil registry laws by policymakers is long overdue," Justice Minister Katarina Barley (SPD) commented on the passing of the motion on Wednesday. The Federal Constitutional Court has set a deadline for corresponding legislation to be implemented by the government in Germany by the start of 2019 at the latest.
Intersexuality is usually caused by variations in the chromosome set of affected individuals. The phenomenon is extremely rare and distinct from transsexuality wherein individuals are born with a genetically-unambiguous male set of XY or female set of XX chromosomes but self-identify with the gender roles associated with the opposite sex.
The Vienna-based European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) has criticized that governments in the continental bloc frequently neglect the rights of their intersexual citizens. There is still little specific legal protection offered against discrimination faced by the group and in some cases children without a clear biological sex have even been subjected to dubious surgical interventions which are designed to make them exclusively male or female.
Justice minister Barley argued on Wednesday that the cabinet motion would give intersexual citizens the dignity they deserved in bureaucratic proceedings and enable them to develop a more positive identity. As a next step, the government would look into eliminating outdating provisions concerning for transsexual Germans as well.
Speaking to the press after the cabinet session, family minister Franziska Giffey (SPD) called for the replacement of the current transsexual with a legal framework which recognized and promoted diversity in gender. "All humans should be able to live freely in accordance with their own sexual identity and preferences," Giffey said.
Germany is not the first country in the world to introduce a third sex option in official documentation. Intersexual citizens in Australia can chose to be referred to as having a "non-specific" sex by authorities in Australia since 2014, while Nepal created a similar "other" category in 2015.