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    Austria’s turn to acknowledge “third sex’’

    The Austrian Constitutional Court ordered Friday that persons not wishing to identify themselves as male or female may from now on be granted that right in their administrative procedures, a new step towards the recognition of a “third sex’’ in Europe. Acceding to the request of an intersex militant known under the name of Alex Jürgen, the Court availed itself of the European Convention on Human Rights to compel the legislator to introduce the notion of “diverse,” “inter” or “other” in the civil status.

    “For the first time in my life, I feel recognized for what I am. As I was born,” stated in a press release Alex Jürgen, who wishes to hide his true identity.

    Praised by social democrat, liberal and ecologist opposition, the Court decision was highly criticized by the far-right wing FPÖ, in power, who qualified it as “totally incomprehensible,’’ and estimated that it raised “numerous issues, especially concerning the military service or the retirement age.’’

    The Court stressed that the European Convention on Human Rights’ Article 8 guarantees a “right to individual sexual identity’’ and protects “in particular people with an alternative sexual identity.”

    In November, Germany was the first European country to see its legislation asking for the creation of a “third sex,” to be followed in May by Netherlands.

    Maria Novak
    The Brussels Times