News / General

Goodwin v UK (Application No. 28957/95) 1 v UK (Application No.25680/94)

By SLAS Spokesperson

In two cases before the European Court of Human Rights the UK was found to be in breach of Articles 8 (the right to respect for family and private life) and 12 (the right to marry and found a family) of the Convention in relation to the rights of transsexuals.

Christine Goodwin was a post-operative male to female who complained about harassment at work and that she had experienced difficulties over her national insurance contributions. Because legally she was a man she had to continue to pay NI contributions until the age of 65, Had she been recognised as a woman she would have been able to stop these at 65. By keeping her same NI number the employer was able to discover that that she previously worked for them as a man. This had caused embarrassment and humiliation. The other case also concerned a post-operative male to female who used to work as a dental nurse but was unable to participate in a nursing course because she refused to produce her birth certificate.

Both applicants complained about the lack of recognition of their post-operative status Particularly in respect of employment, social security, the right to marry and to found a family. They thought they should be able to have their birth certificates changed. The likely effect will probably be to give transsexuals what they have been seeking. The government will be required to introduce the necessary legislation. The Court did not think that any separate issue arose under Article 14 (discrimination)

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