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Ombudsman for Equality statement on the need for legislative amendment of amendments made to the Marriage Act (TAS 321/2015, issued on 2 December 2015)

In December of 2014, the Finnish Parliament enacted an amendment to the Marriage Act (156/2015), under which persons of the same gender may enter into legal matrimony. The amendment to the Marriage Act enters into effect on 1 March 2017 and also requires the amendment of other acts, such as the Act on Confirmation of the Sex of a Transsexual (563/2002, hereinafter Trans Act). On 2 December 2015, the Ombudsman for Equality issued a statement to the Legal Affairs Committee concerning Government Proposal HE 65/2015, which concerns the additional amendments to the Marriage Act amendment.

The Ombudsman for Equality stated that gender and confirmation of gender in marriages occurring after amendment of the Marriage Act no longer affect the form of the relationship or any related legal effects. This also promotes the equal position of transgender persons.

The Ombudsman for Equality felt that it was good that the provisions proposed for the Trans Act no longer required being unmarried or spousal consent in order to confirm gender. Instead, it was proposed that the local register office must report confirmation of the gender of the married person to their spouse. The Ombudsman for Equality stated that marriage is a question of an agreement between two people and the assessment of changes affecting that agreement where both parties are concerned. The report issued by the local register office plays a key role in marriages occurring before amendment of the Marriage Act, where the spouses must be of different genders. The Ombudsman for Equality proposed that the Government Proposal be amended in such a way that the local register office must report a married person's confirmation of gender to the spouse only in cases where the marriage occurred before the amendment to the Marriage Act enters into effect on 1 March 2017.

The Ombudsman for Equality stated that, in addition to the currently proposed amendments to the Trans Act, the requirement stating that a person must be sterilised or otherwise infertile must absolutely be eliminated from the requirements for confirming gender. The infertility requirement of the Trans Act violates fundamental and human rights, such as the right of transgender people to equality, personal integrity, and private and family life. The final report drafted by a working group to revise the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health Trans Act (6.5.2015, STM 2015:23) contains an existing proposal (in the form of a Government Proposal) on elimination of the infertility requirement.

The Legal Affairs Committee stated in its report (LaVM 7/2015 vp) that numerous other needs for amendment relevant to the Trans Act, such as elimination of the infertility requirement, were brought up in its hearing of experts. Because these other needs for amendment were not related to the amendment of the Marriage Act, the Committee stated that it was not possible to evaluate or implement them in connection with the matter in question. In light of the report submitted, an overall examination of the needs to amend the Trans Act was, however, still considered justified.