Greece’s parliament has approved a new law that will make it easier for people to change their legal gender.
Citizens over the age of 15 will now be able to change their gender with a court ruling and without requiring a medical operation.
LGBT activists said the new law was an improvement, but criticised it for not doing enough to establish “full self-determination” for transgender people.
The Greek Orthodox Church said the move was “immoral”.
The bill, which passed by 171 votes in Greece’s 300-seat parliament, removes medical requirements from the process of changing legal gender.
Under the old law, those wanting to change their gender on official documents had to undergo sex-change surgery and medical tests.
This was heavily criticised by human rights groups and LGBT activists. ILGA-Europe, an LGBT rights advocacy group, described it as an “outdated and oppressive practice that violates individuals’ bodily integrity”.
Speaking after the vote, Evelyne Paradis, the group’s executive director, said: “Progress – but not perfect. That sums up my feelings at the moment.”
“Today is a great step forward, but it’s a shame that the step was not one towards full self-determination for all trans people in Greece.”
During a debate on Monday, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras urged lawmakers to support the change. “We are on the side of those who have no voice, or whose voice is stifled,” he said.
However, the law change was opposed by conservative politicians who said the minimum age of 15 was too young.
The leader of conservative opposition party New Democracy, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, said: “For us it is inconceivable to bar 15-year-olds from consuming alcohol, yet enabling them to take such an important decision.”
The Greek Orthodox Church also opposed the bill and called for it to be withdrawn. In a statement (in Greek) they said it “defies customs and common sense, and, above all, destroys people”.
In response, Prime Minister Tsipras said: “Absolutely no tradition, no perception of family calls for people to be sidelined or tossed aside into a social and institutional abyss.”