Swiss government rejects 3rd gender option, at least for now

Dec 20, 2022, 1:14 PM | Updated: Dec 21, 2022, 3:18 am

BERLIN (AP) — The Swiss government on Wednesday rejected the idea of introducing a third gender option or no-gender option for official records, a position which differs from that of some neighboring countries.

Responding to two proposals from parliament, the governing Federal Council said “the binary gender model is still strongly anchored in Swiss society.”

“The social preconditions for the introduction of a third gender or for a general waiver of the gender entry in the civil registry currently are not there,” it said.

The Federal Council added that such options would require “numerous” changes to the Swiss Constitution and to laws both at the national level and in the country’s 26 cantons (states). Currently, people are entered into the civil registry as male or female, with no other option.

The government said a national ethics commission found in a 2020 report that the time wasn’t yet right for a change to the system.

Switzerland has an unusual political system in which four parties from the left to the nationalist right are represented in the government and frequent referendums are held on all kinds of issues.

In 2018, the German government approved a third gender option for official records, allowing people to be registered as “diverse.” The law already allowed for gender to be left blank.

In doing so, Germany complied with a ruling the previous year from the country’s highest court, which decided that people must be allowed to be entered in records as neither male nor female.

Ruling on a case brought by an intersex person, judges ordered German authorities either to create a third identity or scrap gender entries altogether.

In Austria, a federal court ruled in 2018 that authorities must allow people to be entered in official records as something other than male or female, if they so wish. However, it found no need to change the country’s existing law since it didn’t specify explicitly that people’s gender must be male or female.

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Swiss government rejects 3rd gender option, at least for now