A ruling from Germany's Federal Constitutional Court determined that legislators must recognize a third gender designation at birth. Only allowing for male and female options violates Germany's federal ban on discrimination, the court decided, and is therefore unconstitutional.
The ruling came from a 2013 case brought forward by an intersex person who wanted to be recognized as such in the country's registry of birth. In 2013, the country had decided to allow them the option to leave gender blank in the registry, but the court ruled that this was not sufficient.
Lawmakers now have until the end of December 2018 to enact the new legislation. Potential new options for the birth registry are to designate "intersex" or "diverse" as options, or to remove gender entries altogether. Legislators expressed favorable views on the court's ruling.
"We fully respect the decision of the Federal Constitutional Court and the government is fully willing to implement the decision," Johannes Dimroth, spokesman for Germany's Interior Ministry told CNN.
While the ruling and forthcoming legislation only affect those born intersex, advocates hope that this will lead to greater challenging of the gender binary in Germany.
"This judgment is a very important step for intersex people in Germany. We hope it can lead to a rethink in society, to a realization that there are more than two genders," Maja Liebing, expert in LGBTI rights at Amnesty International in Germany, told CNN.
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