MADRID, Dec 22 (Reuters) – Spanish lawmakers on Thursday passed a bill allowing transgeder people aged 14 and over to change their legal gender without the need for psychological or other medical evaluation though 14- to 16-year olds would still need parental or guardians’ agreement.
In some other countries with similar laws, children under 18 still need parental approval. Scotland’s parliament also approved on Thursday a bill making it easier for people to change their legal gender, including lowering the minimum age to 16 from 18.
The Spanish bill, which has been heavily criticised by the conservative opposition and some feminists, was approved in the lower house of parliament by 188-150 votes, with seven abstentions. It still has to be endorsed by the Senate.
“We are making progress on rights as a country,” Equality Minister Irene Montero said during the debate leading up to the vote. “We want all LGBTI people to be able to be themselves, without closets.”
Outside the Congress building, dozens of activists in favour of the law and families of transgender people exchanged hugs and cheered in celebration after the vote, while some burned blue, white and pink flares – the colours of the transgender movement.
“What I think is going to change is society…It is about visibility and normalisation,” Encarni Bonilla, mother of a transgender youth and member of the Chrysallis association, told Reuters.
The bill has caused unease within the ruling coalition, with the far-left Unidas Podemos party, which sponsored it, accusing Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s Socialist party of attempting to torpedo the law, but ultimately the Socialists backed the legislation.
Joining those celebrating outside were Montero and former Socialist lawmaker Carla Antonelli, who had quit the party in protest over the delays in the legislative process.