Greece has banned “sex-normalizing” surgeries on intersex babies, those born with atypical chromosomes that affect their bodies in a way that does not comply with the standard definitions of male or female.
The Greek parliament approved a law on July 19 forbidding such surgeries on children ages 15 and under, unless a court decision states otherwise.
Doctors who violate the law would face fines and a prison term.
For intersex people ages 15 years and older, operations such as corrective surgeries or hormonal therapies would be permitted if the individual consents, the law states.
Rinio Simeonidou, mother of an intersex teenager and secretary general of Intersex Greece, told parliament before the vote that the new law would mark “a truly historic moment for all intersex children in Greece” and a good start in preserving the rights of intersex people.
Malta, Portugal and Germany have already banned such surgeries, which in the past have led intersex people to sterilization, loss of sexual sensation, psychosomatic trauma and health problems, Simeonidou told Reuters.
Earlier this year, Greece became one of the first countries to ban so-called “conversion therapy” for minors, practices aimed at suppressing a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Health experts have condemned the practices as psychologically harmful and unethical.
“I was truly saddened by the mistakes of the past that led to dramatic situations because we were lacking the knowledge and courage,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said to parliament before voting on the new law.
Mitsotakis, who faces elections in 2023, appointed a committee last year to create a strategy for improving LGBTQI+ rights in Greece.
In January, Greece also lifted a decades-old ban on blood donations by gay and bisexual men and has been training civil servants on LGBTQI issues, according to Chief Economic Adviser Alexis Patelis.
“I know that much remains to be done,” the prime minister said on May 17, the international day against homophobia and transphobia. “Modern Greece has the will, the maturity, the heart and the soul to cover for the lost ground.”
Featured image via Athens Pride Facebook page.
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