Japan’s Top Court Strikes Down Required Sterilization Surgery to Officially Change Gender

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10/26/2023

Japan’s Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that a law requiring transgender people to undergo sterilization surgery in order to officially change their gender is unconstitutional, a landmark verdict welcomed by advocates as a sign of growing acceptance of LGBTQ+ rights. The ruling by the top court’s 15-judge Grand Bench applies to the sterilization portion of the 2003 law only. It does not address the constitutionality of requiring gender-transition surgery in general to obtain a state-sanctioned gender change — a requirement also criticized by international rights and medical groups. The law forces those who seek a gender change a “cruel choice between accepting the sterilization surgery that causes intense bodily invasion and giving up important legal benefits of being treated according to their gender identity,” the Supreme Court said.

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