Greece – District Court of Mitilini allows transgender refugee to change ID documents

Monday, December 31, 2018

On 31 December, the District Court of Mitilini ruled in a case concerning a transgender refugee’s request to change her ID documents to match her gender identity.

The applicant, a Bangladeshi national, fled her country after suffering abuse on account of her gender transition and applied for international protection in Greece. She was found to belong to a particular social group at risk of persecution and her request was granted. As she was then issued identity and travel documents with data that did not correspond to her gender identity, she requested an official modification of her name and surname.

The Court first reiterated that the core characteristic of the refugee identity is the rupture in an individual's relations with their home country, where they are at risk of persecution. Referring to Article 25 of the 1951 Refugee Convention and clarifying that the applicant is not in a position to request the name change from her home country, the Court stated that the Greek authorities must be able to ensure that the applicant can fully exercise her rights in this respect.

Furthermore, the Court noted that the principle of equality, as enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the constitutional protection of human dignity must be interpreted as requiring that any special procedure on gender-based name change is applied to asylum applicants and refugees by analogy. Consequently, the applicant may request the correction of her name and surname on identification and travel documents issued by the competent Regional Asylum Office, according to Greece’s recent law on gender-change.

Finally, the Court found that the change of name and surname was necessary to protect the applicant’s dignity and mental health and granted the request.

Based on an unofficial translation by the ELENA Weekly Legal Update. Many thanks to Vassilis Kerasiotis, Country Director for HIAS Greece, for providing us with the text of the judgment.

This item was reproduced with the permission of ECRE from the weekly ELENA legal update. The purpose of these updates is to inform asylum lawyers and legal organizations supporting asylum seekers and refugees of recent developments in the field of asylum law. Please note that the information provided is taken from publicly available information on the internet. Every reasonable effort is made to make the content accurate and up to date at the time each item is published but no responsibility for its accuracy and correctness, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by ECRE.                                                


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