A person holds a transgender pride flag as people gather for a rally to mark the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.

Finland: New gender recognition law ‘a major step towards protecting trans rights’

The passing of legislation in Finland that abolishes the harmful requirements for trans people to endure invasive medical and psychiatric procedures before they can have their gender recognized is a major victory for equality, Amnesty International said today.

The new law – passed by 113 votes to 69 – removes the requirement for trans people to be sterilized and obtain a psychiatric diagnosis in order for them to obtain legal gender recognition.

“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,” said Matti Pihlajamaa, Amnesty International Finland’s LGBTI Rights Advisor.

“The vote comes as a result of more than a decade of campaigning by civil society groups and is a testament to the commitment of activists who have fought long and hard – often in the face of toxic rhetoric – to see this day.”

Under Finland’s current legislation, which is in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights, an individual must provide proof of infertility before they can be granted legal gender recognition. Under the new law, recognition will be available for adults upon written application after a mandatory 30-day ‘period of reflection’.

Despite this significant advancement, however, the new act only introduces a legal gender recognition system for adults.

“While this new law will have a huge and positive impact and provide an important pillar for non-discrimination, more must still be done,” said Matti Pihlajamaa.

“Excluding children from legal gender recognition violates the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. We will continue to call on the government to amend the legislation accordingly to ensure it advances the rights of children.”


In 2017, the Finnish trans act formed part of Write for Rights, Amnesty International’s biggest yearly campaign. Amnesty International called on the Finnish authorities to make the legal gender recognition process quick, accessible, and respectful of human rights. The petition was signed by over 347,000 people worldwide.