Belgium to change its outdated sex change law

Equal Opportunities Secretary Elke Sleurs has said that the procedure required by law to allow people to change sex should be simplified. At present people who want to undergo a sex change are obliged to undergo a whole series of complex operations and hormone treatments.

Elke Sleurs joins Dr Petra De Sutter (photo - left), who sits in the senate for the Green Party and is herself a transgender person, in saying that the present transgender law conflicts with international human rights law.

Equal Opportunities Secretary Elke Sleurs (Flemish nationalist): "If a man wants to become a woman in law, or vice versa, well, this is only possible following a sex change operation. Human rights activists say that this violates the physical integrity of the person. The coalition accord promises a change in the law."

"Today law obliges transgenders to undergo a sterilisation. This means that they cannot have children and this is practically the only situation in the world in which people are obliged to get themselves sterilised. There are also people who do not want to go the entire road, but who do feel transgender. Under present law they cannot legally change sex."

The secretary of state wants to examine how the law can be changed as society has today moved on.

Elke Sleurs: "We want to discuss the issue in the government and with the transgender community first."