L. v. Lithuania (European Court of Human Rights)

The case concerned the failure to introduce implementing legislation to enable a female to undergo sex reassignment surgery and change her sex identification in official documents.

The Court held that there had been no violation of Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman and degrading treatment) of the Convention. While the applicant had suffered understandable distress and frustration the circumstances were not of such an intense degree, involving exceptional, life-threatening conditions, as to fall within the scope of this provision.

The Court further held that there had been a violation of Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) of the Convention. Lithuanian law recognised transsexuals’ right to change not only their sex but also their civil status. However, there was a gap in
the legislation in that there was no law regulating full sex reassignment surgery. This legislative gap had left the applicant in a situation of distressing uncertainty with regard to her private life and the recognition of her “true identity.” Budgetary restraints in the public health service might have justified some initial delays in implementing the rights of transsexuals under the Civil Code but not a delay of over four years. Given the limited number of people involved, the budgetary burden would not have been unduly heavy.

L. v. Lithuania.


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