The government of Bolivia has formally enacted a new Gender Identity Law allowing transsexuals to change the name and gender that appear on their birth certificates and national identity documents.
The law was sanctioned by parliament on Friday and signed by the executive office on the weekend. It allows transsexual and transgender people to change their name, gender, and photo on official documents, to reflect the gender they identify with. The law also permits one reversion of this change back to the original information.
“This is democracy, which is why I’m happy to sign this into law,” said Vice-President Álvaro García Linera, who published the law on Saturday while President Evo Morales was on an official visit to Cuba. “[Transsexuals] have and will always exist, but for the first time the State guarantees social recognition as people with rights independent of sexual orientation.
“No-one has the right to morally judge those with a different sexual orientation. Democracy is tolerance, recognising freedom,” added García, in reference to criticism of the new law from the Catholic Church and other religious institutions.
The new law was celebrated by Bolivia’s LGBT community. “This is the start of a legal existence for trans people,” wrote the Igualdad LGBT Foundation. “We are aware that this does not solve all problems – there is still part of the trans population that doesn’t finish school, that faces social rejection from their families, that has poor access to work, health, and justice. But it is an important step!”
The new law in Bolivia comes four years after Argentina’s Congress approved a similar bill, which was then considered one of the world’s most progressive laws for trans rights. In December last year, Ecuador also approved a new gender identity law.
However, despite the gradual spread of progressive laws, the trans community continues to suffer from discrimination and violence.