Monday, 13 December 2010

Independent: Transsexual given right to marry
1.12.2010 by Elaine Attard

A transsexual, who was born a man but underwent gender reassignment surgery to become a woman, was given the right to get married to a man, in a landmark judgement handed down yesterday.

The Constitutional Court judgement was given by Mr Justice Ray Pace.

Born in 1981 and christened Joseph, Joanne Cassar explained that since she was a child she had felt like a woman so she underwent gender reassignment surgery to resolve her internal conflicts.

Ms Cassar had previously proceeded with a court action to have her details changed on her public identity documents once she was operated on, and her gender was reassigned. This case had been decided in her favour in June 2006. However, the Public Registry Director had refused to issue banns for her to get married.

Although the Civil Court had in February 2007 upheld her request to get married, the Public Registry director requested the court to revoke the permission. The First Hall of the Civil Court granted the revocation in May 2008. The court ruled that her gender had been changed on the birth certificate to safeguard her privacy, as per the Human Rights Convention, but still did not give her the full rights of a woman with regards to the Marriage Act.

In yesterday's judgment, the court quoted foreign case law acknowledging gender identity disorders and scientific developments in biological factors. One cannot ignore post-operative conditions in the eyes of the law, the court considered.

The judgement states that the Public Registry director cannot refuse to issue her banns to get married to a male.

The Public Registry's refusal and the refusal by the authorities to recognise her as a woman breaches her fundamental human rights according to Article 8 of the Convention on Human Rights, which states that everybody has a right to respect for one's private and family life, his home and his correspondence, and Article 12, which states that men and women of marriageable age have the right to marry and to create a family.

Dr Jose' Herrera and Dr David Camilleri appeared for Joanne Cassar.

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