Finland - February 2023
Finland passes new transgender law
A new transgender law was approved in parliament by 113 voting in favour of amendments, 69 against and 17 absent. The gender recognition law makes it easier for transgender people aged 18 and older to change their legal gender by granting them the right to do so by a process of self-declaration, which removes the medical and psychiatric approval process. A provision requiring transgender people to provide a medical certificate that would prove they were infertile or sterilized before changing their gender identity was also abolished. The law, which was a priority for Prime Minister Sanna Marin’s government, was voted in overwhelmingly by Marin’s five-party coalition members, except for 13 Centre Party MPs, the Finns Party and the Christian Democrats. Rights activists have called the law a “major step towards protecting trans rights.”
The Sámi Parliament Act fails in parliament’s final committee stage
The Sámi Parliament Act, which establishes how the Finnish government works with the Sámi legislative assembly on issues impacting indigenous communities, has failed in the Finnish parliament’s final Constitutional Law Committee stage. Under this legislation, representatives of the Sami community would be able to decide who is eligible to identify as Sami and therefore participate in elections. The self-identification of the Sámi people in Finland was also supported by the United Nations Human Rights Committee in 2019 and the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in 2022. Right-wing parties and the Centre Party (one of the Prime Minister’s coalition partners) concluded that that there was not sufficient time to discuss the law before it was sent to parliament. Prime Minister Sanna Marin, who has described the bill as an important human rights milestone for the Sámi, the EU’s only indigenous people, stated that the decision is “unfortunate and regrettable.” Constitutional law experts have called the rejection of the proposed law “purely political,” declaring that there were no human rights or constitutional arguments to reject the law. Critics of the legislation stated that the law could strengthen indigenous land use rights, potentially obstructing mining and wind power projects in the Sámi territory.